Tuesday, December 4, 2012

mining in reserves - the state of play

sa 09 - south australia - reserves with restricted exploration or none and all mineral and petroleum tenements
South Australia showing all current and historical mineral and petroleum tenements - somewhere under there is the state's reserve system!

Mining in reserves in SA - the state of play

Let's take a short tour through the state of South Australia, looking at the current situation regarding the mining industry's access to its reserve system - the national and conservation parks, game and regional reserves, and other flavours of protected area

(All these maps were created using SARIG - the South Australian Resources Information Geoserver - an excellent tool for desktop research. The whole set of images can be viewed in sequence as a slideshow, with a more extended and detailed commentary, on my Flickr site.)

Firstly, the good news - here's the fully protected areas:

sa 01 - south australia - reserves, or sections of reserves, with no mineral or petroleum exploration
The olive-drab areas are those parts of the reserve system from which the mining industry is completely excluded. The special area that fully-protects the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary is visible as the irregular red area immediately north of the fully-protected Vulkathunha/Gammon Ranges National Park east of Leigh Creek
Fully protected areas (olive drab) are shown above, as are areas excluded from the Mining Act (in red). Some of the latter are mines themselves(!), but one, I'm pleased to say, is the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary - a recent and personal victory for many reading this - which is, in turn, adjacent to the fully-protected Vulkathunha National Park, once threatened by magnesite miners, and whose consolidation in its rightful, fully-protected, status required a long campaign at the turn of the century.

(If you look at the map at the head of the post you can see the outlines of historic exploration leases, which, given their extensive overlapping, reveal that many of the now fully-protected Wilderness Areas had previously been determined to be unprospective!)

Next we'll add those reserves to which the industry has 'restricted' access - a comforting term, but still a name for mineable parks, nonetheless!

sa 02 - south australia - reserves with restricted exploration or none
The light green areas are those parts of the reserve system to which the mining industry has access
Woah! Well, there's the bulk of the state's parks, appearing in light green. The industry still has access to roughly 3/4 of their land area.

So, are they using it?

sa 03 - south australia - reserves with restricted exploration or none and mineral exploration licences
The light blue overlay indicates current mineral - and only mineral - exploration licences.
Yes. We can now see the current mineral exploration licences, and if we turn to consider mineral exploration licence applications...

sa 04 - south australia - reserves with restricted exploration or none and mineral exploration licences and applications
The pink overlay indicates current mineral exploration licence applications.
...we see that these tenements are extensive, not only across the state, but across its reserves. And if we factor in historic mineral exploration leases?

sa 05 - south australia - reserves with restricted exploration or none and all current and historic mineral exploration licences and applications
The sky blue outlines indicate all historic mineral exploration licences.
I'm sure you'll forgive me for observing that this all doesn't exactly look excessively 'hemmed in', 'locked out', or 'overly regulated' to me! If anything, we might perhaps consider the reverse...

don't forget the petrol!

But we have yet to consider the petroleum side of the equation, so lets clear the mineral tenements and run through the current petroleum exploration leases -

sa 06 - south australia - reserves with restricted exploration or none and petroleum exploration licences
The pale aqua overlay indicates current petroleum - and only petroleum - exploration licences.
Yes, petroleum leases are vast, when compared to their rocky counterparts! They also tend to cover the north-east of the state, which is not usually a mineral target.

So, let's add the petroleum exploration lease applications...

sa 07 - south australia - reserves with restricted exploration or none and petroleum exploration licences and applications
The puce layer indicates current petroleum exploration licence applications
...and we see that the bulk of the state and the available reserve system is now covered. It just remains to reveal the historic petroleum exploration leases...

sa 08 - south australia - reserves with restricted exploration or none and all current and historic petroleum exploration licences and applications
The dark teal outline indicates historic petroleum exploration licences
...and then we can re-examine the image at the top of the post, which includes all exploration tenements for both the mineral and petroleum arms of the mining industry - but not, I will note, the gas sector - plus all current and historic production tenements -

sa 09 - south australia - reserves with restricted exploration or none and all mineral and petroleum tenements

Phew! Yes, both the state and its reserve system are largely subsumed.

what's in a name?

And this is interesting in the light of the state government's recently proposed amendments overhauling the reserve category system to provide consistency with International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) categories, adding the category of a 'Nature Park' to the existing National and Conservation Parks to cover those reserves where the mining industry is to be given access (the existing category of 'Regional Reserve' will be retained where the pastoral industry is also permitted to operate.)

What does this mean? Well, you can read it for yourself, but aside from us 'gaining' 67 such 'Nature Reserves' it means that, if the amendments are passed, the number of Conservation Parks will decline from 261 to 222, Recreation Parks from 14 to 6, and National Parks from 21 to 19 - but this is interesting, because by rights that number should actually be 16!

But instead we get, for example, this remarkable statement -
In response to community concerns regarding the potential impact on tourism if reclassified as a Nature Reserve, this park will remain in the National Park category and will continue to provide for existing and future mining rights.
So, folks, when is a National Park not a National Park?

If a wild area is of so much importance to the community, to the state's ecosystem, and to our tourism economy, that it merited being designated as a National Park in the first place, why, oh why, must the mining industry be given access to it? And is it not hypocritical to insist that, yes, they must be allowed access, but then not admit that in reality this hitherto icon is actually only a 'Nature Reserve'?

I'll be producing a post specifically focusing on a couple of the parks in question shortly. I really cannot imagine a world where the public is ever going to accept their being mined, so I cannot see why we have to leave ourselves open to future Arkaroola-type struggles. It's not even in the mining industry's best interest! As you can see, it already has the run of the state; why does it continue to insist on getting access to some of our premier landscape jewels, too?

For the time being, see if you can spot on the maps above some of the state's most prominent National Parks that are either substantially, or significantly, light green - that is, accessible to the mining industry.

I've included some hints below. Public responses on the new categories can be made up until Friday 21st December.

kolay mirica falls

yakka spikes

bjd - simpson trip aug 10 - ah dalhousie e

Monday, June 11, 2012

we did it - time to celebrate!

we did it! by liam.jon_d, on Flickr
The Arkaroola victory - the T-Shirt!

Yes, we won! So the time has come for a celebration...

If you wrote or emailed to a politician of a newspaper, made a phone call, dressed up as a cowboy, handed out leaflets, made a submission on 'Seeking a Balance', or any of the dozens of other things, small and large, that go into making a campaign - any or all of the above - this is your victory too!

The celebration will be held on Sunday 1st July at the Grace Emily Hotel, 232-238 Waymouth Street, Adelaide (see below), from 4pm to 10pm .

Performances by:
  • Tealight, a duo from Adelaide dedicated to playing songs that made the 40s and 50s the "golden era" of music.
  • The Wandering Minstrels, with guitar, mandolin, harmonica, rhythm box and harmonies divine. The acoustic roots duo have an energetic and capturing stage presence with lyrics to inspire your consciousness!
  • Abbey Howlett, draws endless inspiration from her surroundings, with jazz, soul and blues styling’s driving her totally unique and earthy tone. Her voice is big and her stage presence, powerful!
  • Minority Tradition, songs give breath to hope in a world of chaos and misunderstanding. Optimistic, uplifting and beautiful.
  • Johnny McIntyre has a style and sound of old folk/blues and brings to your ears a reminiscent taste of early rock’n’roll recordings. His song structures explore storytelling through clever use of dynamics, layered guitars and sharp lyrics.
There will also be a BBQ, raffle and twister game with a difference.
Marg Sprigg will be travelling from Arkaroola to join the celebration.
Entry by donation.

This is a great achievement, and it's certainly worth celebrating your part in it.

I look forward to seeing you there.

View Larger Map

Friday, March 2, 2012

so, what have we protected?...

bjd - arkaroola june 2010 - l ridge top tour ay
Spectacular: the view to the Mawson Plateau across Yudnamutana Gorge from Siller's Lookout, the outward-bound terminus of the famous Ridgetop Tour

It's with great pleasure that I post this short, non-comprehensive tour of the new Arkaroola Protection Area.

Our campaign to save the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary from the mining industry has tended to focus on those areas that were most at risk; the direct target zones for mineral exploration.

But the new bill has protected the overwhelming bulk of the sanctuary, including those sections of the Mawson Plateau both in Arkaroola itself and on the adjacent Mount Freeling station.

After 180mm of rain in 2 days earlier this week shortly - when the roads are re-opened - there's never going to be a better time to visit Arkaroola!

Here's why -

bjd - arkaroola april 2010 - la nooldoonooldoona ai

Nooldoonooldoona Waterhole on the Bolla Bollana Creek.

mawson plateau - sept 2011 - bq

The T-junction Waterhole on the magnificent Mawson Plateau.

arkaroola 2011 - c acacia ridge aq

Taking in the view back towards Mount Painter and the heart of the sanctuary from the Acacia Ridge walk.

bjd - arkaroola april 2010 - g barraranna gorge ab

Barraranna Gorge: this freshwater crayfish or marron (Cherax albidus) lifts a riverstone with its pincers and mouth-parts while excavating its home.

arkaroola 2011 - g yudnamutana ad

Rocky walls tower above a side creek in the Yudnamutana Gorge.

bjd - arkaroola april 2010 - dc paralana ac

The lush outlet creek of the Paralana Hot Springs.

bjd - arkaroola june 2010 - h bolla bollana af

Botanising at the Bolla Bollana Waterhole.

arkaroola 2011 - d road to paralana ab

The spirit of the inland - a striking gum-barked coolibah (Eucalyptus intertexta) against red cliffs above Stubbs Waterhole.

arkaroola 2011 - j east painter bh

Following an old access track deep in the East Painter Gorge.

arkaroola 2011 - a nooldoonooldoona aq

I saw a frog! Downstream from the Nooldoonooldoona Waterhole.

bjd - arkaroola june 2010 - h wheal turner ap

The western edge of the ranges from a ridge above the old Wheal Turner mine works.

mawson plateau - sept 2011 - dr

Wilderness hiking on the remote Mawson Plateau.

bjd - arkaroola june 2010 - h bolla bollana ax

Euro (Macropus robustus) in saltbush country near the Bolla Bollana Creek.

mawson plateau - sept 2011 - do

Idyllic wilderness camp site on the Mawson Plateau.

arkaroola 2011 - c acacia ridge bg

Descending towards the Arkaroola Village on the Acacia Ridge trail.

And that's not-nearly all! For more view the Best of Arkaroola slideshow:

Or why not just visit the newly fully protected sanctuary yourself? You know you want to!...



we won! - see photos from the protected area on flickr

At last! Nearly 5 years after we began this campaign against a potential mining operation in the heart of the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary, we have won!

But we didn't just stop one misguided mining project - we've stopped them all!

As of yesterday virtually all [map] of the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary - barring the northern-most tip and some small sections out on the plains near the 4-Mile Uranium mine - and a bit more besides (including the overwhelming bulk of the Mawson Plateau both inside Arkaroola itself and those sections on the adjacent Mount Freeling station) resides safely in the Arkaroola Protection Area, a 62 600 hectare fully-protected area from which the mining industry is completely excluded.


If you were also involved in the campaign to get the mining industry out of the Weetootla Gorge in the adjacent Vulkathunha / Gammon Ranges National Park at the Turn of the Century(!) - which also succeeded completely, removing the industry from the entire area of the park in the process - you are now a contributor to a full protection area covering more than 185 000 hectares of some of the most spectacular country in the northern Flinders Ranges.

So well done you!

Here's how Arkaroola's own From the Ark newsletter describes the news on Wednesday, the day before the legislation formally cleared both houses of state parliament:

Chocolate-coloured bubbles are bursting all over Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary in a triple celebration this Leap Day. It’s been ONE BIG WEEK and Arkaroola can finally leap headlong into an exciting new future!

Just before 6 pm yesterday, February 28th, the Arkaroola Protection Bill 2011 passed through the Upper House of the South Australian Parliament. The Bill provides permanent protection for Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary. All but Arkaroola’s north-eastern panhandle and a narrow strip of plains country will be protected, in perpetuity, from mineral exploration and mining. This historic moment marks the culmination of a five-year campaign to protect Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary, following the discovery, in 2007, of illegally buried mineral and general waste by mineral exploration company Marathon Resources. Two Amendments moved by Greens MLC, Mark Parnell, were also passed. The Amendments ensure that the Bill will protect the cultural and spiritual values of the traditional owners, the Adnyamathanha people. Traditional owners will be consulted as a management plan is developed for the Arkaroola Protection Area. The Bill will now return to the Lower House for rubber stamping. This is expected to be finalised in the next couple of days.

Last week, a nomination for National Heritage Listing, developed jointly by Arkaroola and the South Australian Government, was sent to the Australian Government. Dr Graeme Worboys, an internationally respected protected areas expert, worked very closely with Arkaroola and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, to distil and articulate Arkaroola’s national geoheritage values. The nomination will now be considered by the Department of Environment, Water,
Heritage and the Arts, and if supported will be passed to the Australian Heritage Council for assessment. There are several steps involved in NHL listing and the process is expected to take twelve to eighteen months.

More than 180mm of rain has fallen across the sanctuary over the past forty-eight hours. There are bubbles everywhere! With more than 900mm of rain recorded for the past two years, and three back-to-back wet summers, a spectacular recovery is now guaranteed. BOOM is the resounding word of the moment, as floodwaters crash over rocks and Arkaroola rides the crest of a bust/boom cycle.

It’s time to take that bottle of bubbly off the ice and celebrate what we have all achieved together. As bubbles burst all over Arkaroola it’s time to leap into the future.

For more information go to: www.arkaroola.com.au/breakingnews.php

Here's how Greens MLC- and tireless campaigner for the protection of Arkaroola - Mark Parnell greeted the news of the passage of the legislation through the Upper House the day before:

The Upper House of State Parliament has just passed a Bill to permanently protect from mining the iconic mountains of Arkaroola in the State’s far North.

The legal protection is the culmination of a long-running community and Greens campaign to ensure this magnificent part of our State is no longer threatened by damaging mining activity.

“This is a wonderful, historic day,” said Greens Parliamentary leader Mark Parnell.

“It’s taken a long time, but finally a law has been passed that ensures the permanent protection of the world famous mountains of Arkaroola.

“If a future Government wants to let the miners back in they will have to over-turn this Act of Parliament. I am totally confident that this will never happen.

“It is wonderful that all sides of politics have finally accepted what the Greens have been arguing all along: that some places are simply too precious to mine,” he said.

In passing the Bill, the Greens moved 2 successful amendments to ensure appropriate consultation with the traditional owners from the Adnyamathanha people over the management of the land.

“As this is such an important piece of legislation, it is vital we get it right and ensure that all traditional owners have a say in how Arkaroola will be managed,” said Mr Parnell.

“The Greens have been very proud to stand alongside the Sprigg Family, Adnyamathanha Elders and the many passionate environmental and heritage campaigners from across the state and across the world who have fought to protect this precious place.

“They can all be very proud of what they have achieved,” he said.

And here's how state Environment Minister Paul Caica described his government's decision:

Mr Caica said the final passage of the unprecedented legislation will ensure the cultural, natural and landscape values of Arkaroola are protected for all time.

“The Arkaroola area is a significant place for the Adnyamathanha People and their connections with this place remain strong and vibrant,’’ he said.

“Arkaroola is among the most magnificent places in the world, defined by towering granite peaks, razor back ridges, and deep gorges, encompassing ancient sea beds with fossils that are up to 650 million years old. It features unique biodiversity and is a haven for national and state conservation rated species, including 160 species of birds and the rare yellow footed rock wallaby.

“The final passage of the legislation will give a defined 62,600 ha area, known as the Arkaroola Protection Area, the highest form of protection and put in place a management planning framework to guide the future conservation of its natural and cultural values and its ongoing accessibility for visitors and scientific research.

“The Arkaroola Protection Area will meet international and national standards for what is defined as a ‘protected area’ and ensure all forms of mining, mineral exploration and grazing are banned.

“The State Government will work with the Adnyamathanha people, the Spriggs family and parties with adjacent interest to prepare the management plan.”

Mr Caica said the final passage of the Bill will mark the completion of the three-stage process to protect Arkaroola that was initiated by the State Government last year.

“The State Government immediately removed the area from operation under the Mining Act, delivered on the special purpose legislation and I am pleased to announce that we also submitted the nomination for national heritage listing on February 22,” he said.

“The South Australian Heritage Council provisionally listed Arkaroola on the State Heritage Register in October last year and they are expected to make a decision on permanent listing in March.”