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Locals take mining concerns to Parliament House

by S Lowe5THE FM newsonline wattlerangenow

South East residents were well represented in a combined show of protest by communities across South Australia on Saturday 2nd August as they converged on Parliament House North Tce Adelaide to confront the Government on its decision to grant mining licenses across the state.

Almost 1000 people gathered at Parliament House for speeches and then marched to Victoria Square to continue the protest.  Many had travelled long distances from the South East and Yorke and Eyre Peninsulas, asking  ‘is mining more important to the state than agriculture’?

They protested against the Hillside copper mine approved by the State Government last week, which will convert farming land into mining near Ardrossan;  gas projects in the South-East and a proposed iron ore mine planned for the Eyre Peninsula. If the iron ore mine goes ahead, farmers face having their farms mined for 25 years; the mine is expected to be one of the largest of its kind.  Residents fear the proposed iron ore mine will negatively impact their farming and quality of life with the mine being only 2k’s from one farm.

Greens MP Mark Parnell addressed the crowd saying the government had to choose between destroying farrmland on the Yorke Peninsula, which had been productive for over 140 years, and the relatively short life span of a mine.

The Limestone Coast Protection Alliance (LCPA) members are concerned gas drilling in the South East will affect the region in irreversible ways if the underground water supply is contaminated. An area known for its agriculture, farming and vineyards, the South East depends on the underground water supply and locals have voiced concerns at numerous information meetings held around the Limestone Coast in the lead up to Saturdays protest.

The LCPA is also concerned that tourism will be negatively impacted if gas drilling goes ahead in the South East as well as the health of the communities which they say are at risk based on evidence from USA where drilling has occurred on farmland and close to residential areas.

Also addressing the crowd was  MP Robert Brokenshire Family First who said his Party is not against mining but it must be in the right place and this isn’t, he said. Mr Brokenshire was obviously moved by the situation.

“Once underground water reserves are contaminated, there is no coming back from that,” he said.

Maitland Farmer Ben Wundersitz said his family has farmed  in Maitland on the Yorke Peninsula for 5 generations and said the whole region is under threat; he is horrified that the copper mine approved by the government last week, will be the size of the Adelaide CBD and the rock pile left will be almost the height of the SANTOS building, with no plans in place for the mining companies to repair the decimated landscape.

Tumby Bay farmer Bronte Gregurke said ‘we are protesting, not scaremongering’. He said the current State Government legislation definitely favours mining.

“Will we lose the Port Lincoln, the seafood capital of Australia, will we lose our famous Coffins Bay oysters?” he said.

South East landowner James Darling who has a property between Keith and the Coorong said a petroleum exploration lease covered his whole property, including 8000 acres of natural bushland. He is concerned that mining companies can enter land with little  notice. Many farmers have placed ‘Lock the Gate’ signs on their gates to exercise what they believe are their rights as landowners. The South East exploration drilling by Beach Energy,  has entered conventional reserves and also deep shale formations.

Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis says that the Rex Mineral’s Hillside mining lease will only cover 3000 hectares which is small compared to the overall cropped area of the peninsula. He said he believes many South Australians support the government’s approach to mining.

A recent on-line survey of 940 votes showed 3.94% were in favour of mining, 77.87% favoured agriculture over mining, 17.98 said mining and agriculture could work together and .21% were undecided. Source: news.com

Representatives of the LCPA who marched on Saturday told wattlerangenow they want the use of renewable energy practices expanded in the State instead of depleting coal and gas reserves and potentially risking damage to water tables,  farmland and the livelihood of South Australian communities.

 

 

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