MEDIA RELEASE 25th November 2019
High praise for the Denmark Environment Centre &
Environmental Protection Authority welcomes community group study
In their latest Annual Report1, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) dedicated the Community Spotlight section to the work done by the Denmark Environment Centre (DEC) and D’Entrecasteaux Coalition on the problems posed by acid sulphate soils along the south-west coastal area known as the Scott Coastal Plain. The EPA Annual Report 20191 notes:
“The EPA commends the Denmark Environment Centre for their time and hard work in raising this important issue with government and for the information contained in their strategic assessment, submitted in June 2019.” The community report: Evans & Russell Strategic Assessment under Section 16 (e) of the Environmental Protection Act. For the Scott Coastal Plain from Augusta in the west to Donnelly River in the east including Lake Jasper June 20192. Can be found at: http://savelakejasper.org.au/index.php/quick-links/
The EPA Annual Report continues:
“The EPA also notes the high risk of acid sulfate soil levels in the area, and the potential impact that development could have on water quality in coastal floodplains, wetlands, rivers and creeks.”
“The EPA is aware of the cumulative impact on the region from mining activity, and the risk of acid leachate and environmental damage to an important biodiverse region. The EPA notes the high value of the region and in particular the importance of the Scott River Ironstone Association (a threatened ecological community), major coastal wetlands, dune system and ecotones and flora and fauna, including waterbirds.”
“Any future proposals referred to the EPA for assessment will be considered in the context of the high biodiversity values of the Scott Coastal Plain and the risk of environmental impact from exposure of acid sulfate soils.”
Geoff Evans & Andy Russell
Denmark Environment Centre & D’Entrecasteaux Coalition
Andy – 97761559
Geoff – 0488933828
1Reference: Environmental Protection Authority 2019, Environmental Protection Authority: Annual report 2018–19, EPA, Perth, Western Australia.
2Reference: Evans & Russell Strategic Assessment under Section 16 (e) of the Environmental Protection Act. For the Scott Coastal Plain from Augusta in the west to Donnelly River in the east including Lake Jasper June 2019.
PRESS RELEASE 01072019
The Known Risks and Failure of Minerals Sands Mining on the
Scott Coastal Plains.
Iluka Resources was granted an Exploration Licence E70/5200 on the Scott Coastal Plain between the Blackwood and Donnelly Rivers. The licence consists of 16BL (blocks), which are north of the Gingilup Swamps Nature Reserve and within the Scott River catchment. This tenement is part of an ancient shoreline, which is defined by the Barlee Scarp, that extends from the Blackwood to the Donnelly Rivers and includes Lake Jasper, the Southwest’s largest freshwater lake in the D’Entrecasteaux National Park.
The Scott Coastal Plain and associated wetlands systems have been identified as having moderate to high risk acid sulphate soils (ASS). By granting this licence it appears the Minister for Mines hasn’t learnt from past experience and is prepared to take risks associated with mining mineral sands in this environmentally sensitive area.
In 1997 BHP and the State Government invested a substantial amount of money to provide infrastructure and develop the Beenup mine-site. By 1999 BHP mineral sands was forced to stop mining because of acid sulphate soils and technical issues. The subsequent sulphuric acid groundwater plume, which is now migrating towards the Scott River. Cable Sands former Jangardup mineral sands mine also has a sulphuric acid groundwater plume beneath it and is migrating towards Lake Quitjup. This is a direct result of the iron sulphide layer (pyrite) in the soil being disturbed and exposed to air from excavation. The plumes should not be underestimated and can alter the pH dramatically, as well as impact on groundwater, surrounding vegetation and wildlife. These former mines are continuously being monitored.
The Hon Diane Evers recently presented questions to the Minister for Mines regarding the licence E70/5200 and the answers were recently tabled. When asked “Was the Minister aware that part of the exploration licence was in an area identified as having moderate to high risk acid sulphate soils?”
The Minister stated, “Yes, however in the event there should be disturbance on any specific part of the licence the disturbance should be subject to appropriate assessment.”
The Minister also confirmed the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) did not assess the potential disturbance of acid sulphate soils during any exploration activity. The proposed drilling is stated as being low impact shallow drilling on existing tracks and presents a low acid sulphate soils disturbance risk. DMIRS did not seek advice of or collaborate with other state government departments on the issue. However, the DMIRS maintains close relationships with other agencies to assure its assessment methodologies are appropriate.
From previous studies in this region the pyrite layer is shallow and frequently occurs within 1.5 m of the soil surface (though not at all sites). There are reports from other government departments, which should have alerted DMIRS to the significant risks of ASS in this region.
DMIRS did not communicate with the EPA in respect of the conservation area or the dieback risk zone area because they had approved one program of work on the exploration licence. The Minister stated the proposed activities in this program do not intersect with a conservation reserve and would be unlikely to impact the reserve, hence no communication with the EPA was necessary. Dieback management was assessed by DMIRS during the program of work assessment. The tenement holder is required to adhere to a dieback management plan.
The Minister also confirmed DMIRS is not represented or part of any acid sulphate working groups or committee.
The following questions must be raised about DMIRS and its responsibilities to adequately address environmental conditions. With no assessment strategy of the acid sulphate soils in question, no collaboration or consultation with other agencies, the methodologies for assessment of the exploration licence area E70/5200 appears to have been poor.
The Department of Water states in report no. HG24 that, “ASS disturbance and the subsequent generation of acidic water, if released, have the potential to cause significant environmental harm at a local and regional scale.”
Without thorough assessment before we act these near pristine biodiverse wetland systems and local communities could once again be exposed to the risk of ASS contamination.
For further enquiries please contact Andy Russell 97761559
16 June 2019
State Government to Assess Acid Threat in South-West
The D’Entrecasteaux Coalition has delivered a proposal to the State Government for a long overdue Strategic Assessment of the acid sulphate threat to the Scott Coastal Plain between Augusta and Donnelly River. The call was made after the conservation group met with State Government representatives and where it argued that the increasing land-use conflicts along the Scott Coastal Plain had potential to impact on and long-term viability of the agricultural industries and damage the sustainability of the important conservation estate.
After noting the increasing number of proposed mineral sand mines along the Scott Coastal Plain located in areas of high acid sulphate soils, the D’Entrecasteaux Coalition has called on the State Government to assess the potential cumulative social, environmental and economic impacts from an expansion of mineral sands mines with special focus on acid sulphate soil (ASS) dangers.
Acid Sulphate Soil is the name given to sediment and soil containing iron sulphides (principally iron pyrite or iron disulphide). The exposure of pyrite in these soils to oxygen by drainage or excavation leads to the generation of sulphuric acid. Acidic leachate can dissolve clay and release toxic concentrations of metals into the groundwater and water-bodies. Acidic leachate can lead to the death or disease of aquatic organisms and vegetation and render groundwater unusable.
The increasing demands on the Scott Coastal Plain from agribusiness and potential mining operations could lead to another BHP Beenup mineral sands mine closure debacle. The two former mineral sands mines, Beenup and Jangardup, are now classified as contaminated sites, subject to on-going monitoring of sulphuric acid groundwater plumes, the result of mining operations, migrating off-site.
“Governments, government departments and the mining industry continue to underestimated or dismiss the critical issue of ASS. They ignored independent scientific and community group advice on the ASS dangers in relation to the Beenup and Jangardup mineral sands mines in the south-west. Now the local communities are left with a toxic groundwater legacy. Our plan is to ensure this does not happen again,” said D’Entrecasteaux Coalition spokesperson Andy Russell.
The D’Entrecasteaux Coalition believes that long-term planning based on the best available science is a better policy and one which will sustain the economy and local communities in the longer term. That is why it has called for this Strategic Assessment.
“By working cooperatively within the region, government agencies and Ministers with long-term vision and good governance can provide guidance for a truly sustainable future. We have presented the Government with research regarding the ASS threat on the Scott Coastal Plain and now it is up to the State Government to continue with a Strategic Assessment that will secure the sustainability and viability of the region”, said Mr. Russell.
For further information please contact Andy Russell 97761559
8th May 2019
Save Lake Jasper news update
The campaign to protect Lake Jasper and incorporate the conservation area excised by a previous Liberal Government in 1996 continues with some promising developments.
Diane Evers MLC has been able to ask a number of parliamentary questions for us. These have revealed:
• A large sulphuric acid groundwater plume at the former Jangardup mineral sands mine.
• Audit reports from Cristal Mining, prepared for the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, were tabled by the Minister for the Environment.
• Current status of the excised conservation area next to Lake Jasper.
Letters to government MPs
In addition to this, many government MPs have received an information package regarding Lake Jasper and the campaign to have the excised conservation area re-incorporated back into the D’Entrecasteaux National Park. There have also been letters to the Minister for Mines, the Minister for Environment and the Premier. These have focused on:
• The status of the excised area and re-incorporation back into the D’Entrecasteaux National Park.
• The current mining lease over the excised area next to Lake Jasper and its rejection by the Mines Minister.
• That Section 19 of the Mining Act is applied over the excised area to prevent further mining lease applications.
• Changes to the Mining Act to make the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety recognise past community involvement in areas subject to mine lease applications and to proactively seek community comment.
The Coalition has also written to Strategic Energy Resources, that wholly owns Strategic Sands regarding relinquishing the Mining Lease 70/1385 next to Lake Jasper. This is a logical step and an act that a responsible corporate entity would take to facilitate the protection of the Gingilup-Jasper Wetlands and Lake Jasper.
The Environment Minister, Stephen Dawson, has indicated in a letter to the D’Entrecasteaux Coalition that the Gingilup–Jasper Wetlands next to Lake Jasper, including the area currently subject to Strategic Sands mining lease ML 70/1385, could be re-incorporated back into the D’Entrecasteaux National Park concurrently with the State Government’s ‘Plan for Our Parks’ process. Hence it is important that D’Entrecasteaux Coalition members participate in the ‘Plan for Our Parks’ process and nominate the Gingilup–Jasper Wetlands area next to Lake Jasper, formerly within the D’Entrecasteaux National Park, to be re-incorporated into the national park.
We have released media statements since the beginning of the current campaign and have received good local media interest and interviews with our spokesperson Andy Russell also on ABC south west radio. These media releases have dealt with:
• Protection for Lake Jasper a Step Closer.
• Environment Group Calls for Mines Department Reform.
• Yoondadadup Lake Jasper Conservation Values.
• Proposed Mining Lease 70/1385 Yoondadadup Lake Jasper.
• Indigenous Custodians Share SW Wetlands Dismay.
• Lake Jasper Coalition Organises in Response to New Mining Threat to Lake.
• New Threat to Ancient Lake.
Impacts of mineral sand mining in high risk acid sulphate soils regions – Scott Coastal Plain
Extract from – Audit report Conclusions Summary (For the former Jangardup mineral sand mine.)
The water quality of the area around the mine site has been affected, especially bores to the west of the site, with increases in EC, SO4, Fe, Al, Mg and Ca concentrations having taken place since mining. In many case these concentrations peak before 2013 and are now dropping. However, there have been some unexplained changes in a few bores since mid-2012 through 2013, especially bores JGMB10, CSO3A, COD1A, COD1B, COD2B, and COD3B. It is unclear as to why conditions have suddenly changed so long after mining stopped. It is recommended that the practices in the area (including potential changes to farming abstraction and irrigation) be assessed, to help better understand the recent changes in groundwater chemistry. Also, those bores that are blocked, should be cleaned out or replaced.
The above paragraph is a reference to acid sulphate soils (ASS), which when exposed as in mining and dredging operations, results in a chemical reaction, which produces sulphuric acid and releases metals into the surrounding shallow aquifer.
Recent monitoring of bores has continued with increasing levels in EC, SO4, Fe, Al, Mg and Ca in several bores.
Several bores are continuing to potentially show effects of acid sulphate soils. Ref Audit report.
Extract from Audit Report 2.3.4 Distribution of Pyrite (Acid sulphate soil)
Pyrite occurs extensively in the Guildford Formation, at depths of more than 1 or 2 m. In other words, the Upper Surficial Formation (USF) has generally low concentrations of pyrite, while the Lower Surficial Formation (LSF), at least in the vicinity of Jangardup and Jangardup South, can have high concentrations of pyrite.
The sampling program undertaken in 2009 has confirmed the occurrence of high risk acid sulphate soils at depths of 1m to 2m adjacent to Lake Jasper and in the Gingilup-Jasper Wetlands, which includes the proposed Jangardup South mineral sand mine. Ref Degens et al (See map last page.)
The Gingilup-Jasper Wetlands and Lake Jasper form part of the Scott Coastal Plain (SCP), which extends from Augusta in the west to the Donnelly River in the east. There are eleven mineral sand mining tenements in this region, which include mining leases, exploration and retention licences and a gold exploration licence along the Donnelly River. This also includes two former mineral sand mines – Beenup and Jangardup – both with acid sulphate plumes moving through the shallow aquifer. Although acid sulphate soils mapping was completed on the Scott Coastal Plain and the region classified as a high risk, there is an obvious need to conduct a more detailed and extensive acid sulphate soil sampling and mapping program for the Scott Coastal Plain.
If the Governments commitments to reinstate the excised area back to D’Entrecasteaux National Park are successful, the D’Entrecasteaux Coalition will continue our campaign to protect the Scott Coastal Plain from high risk mining ventures.
Geoff Evans and Andy Russell
For the Denmark Environment Centre and D’Entrecasteaux Coalition
28 March 2019
Environment Group Calls for Mines Department Reform
The D’Entrecasteaux Coalition has called on the McGowan Government to make changes to the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) community consultation process to ensure that it is responsive to community needs and cognizant of the State Government’s stated goals of all Departments having open and transparent procedures.
In a letter to the Minister for Mines, Bill Johnston, and the Premier, the D’Entrecasteaux Coalition has called on them to make changes to DMIRS’ notification process for new mining and exploration leases.
During the former Liberal Government’s roll back of environmental protection, the Mines Department changed the system of mining lease application notification, such that these applications were no longer required to be published in local newspapers. These changes to the Mining Regulations (No. 4) 2012 were published in the Government Gazette. There was no comprehensive community consultation regarding this elimination of public notification and review.
There is now only an on-line notification system through DMIRS. Checking applications or changes to all mining tenements can only be accessed through logging-on to the Mineral Titles Online website.
“While the D’Entrecasteaux Coalition would like to see the Department’s processes changed to make it encourage public participation, and adopt precautionary principles to projects and practice key sustainability principles, we are specifically asking the State Government to re-establish advertising of new mining leases in the local newspapers and to improve the system through compulsory notification of individual organisations with a history of interest in that particular area where a lease has been made,” said representative of the D’Entrecasteaux Coalition Andy Russell.
Given the Department’s restricted notification system, it is not surprising that the Department is now stating that there were no objections to the contentious Mining Lease 70/1385 which is within a ‘C’ Class Reserve next to Lake Jasper.
“This self-serving system needs reviewing. Our proposed changes can easily be incorporated into the notification process and would make DMIRS more open and responsive to community needs,” said Mr Russell.
It must also be pointed out that DMIRS and the Mining Warden would have been fully aware of the sensitive nature of any mining lease application next to Lake Jasper. This is because of the long community campaign to protect Lake Jasper and the Gingilup-Jasper Wetlands that started in 1996 and involved numerous cases at the Mining Warden’s Court.
“Given the history of community concern over mining near Lake Jasper, it should have been an automatic procedure for the DMIRS or the Mining Warden to have notified the D’Entrecasteaux Coalition or the state’s peak environmental body, the Conservation Council WA, of the new mining lease application. That it did not shows a failing in the Department and its processes. It is time for improvement and change,” said Mr Russell.
Contact: Andy Russell 97761559
16 March 2019
Protection for Lake Jasper a Step Closer
The D’Entrecasteaux Coalition welcomes the recent announcement by the Minister for the Environment Stephen Dawson that the ecologically important Gingilup – Jasper Wetlands that form part of Lake Jasper’s catchment will be reinstated into the conservation estate.
The Environment Minister indicated in a letter to the D’Entrecasteaux Coalition that the re-inclusion of the wetlands next to Lake Jasper back into the D’Entrecasteaux National Park will occur concurrently with the Government’s Plan for Our Parks process.
The Plan for Our Parks seeks to ensure that WA’s unique biodiversity is protected and conserved, including threatened flora and fauna and their habitats. The Gingilup-Jasper Wetlands surrounding Lake Jasper are a major nursery area for freshwater fishes and frogs and harbours a unique array of plant species.
Scientific surveys of the area have ranked Lake Jasper third among the 27 south coast wetlands for species diversity and abundance. Some birds using the Lake are covered by the Japan/Australia or China/Australia Migratory Bird Agreements. The tall sedgelands of Baumeaarticulata on the western shores of Lake Jasper provide habitat critical to the endangered Australasian Bittern (DBCA 2018)
D’Entrecasteaux Coalition spokesperson Andy Russell said “We look forward to working with the Minister for the Environment to ensure that the protection of Lake Jasper will proceed seamlessly to its conclusion.”
Mr Russell added that the next important step in protecting Lake Jasper is to have Strategic Sands, which recently took out a mining lease next to Lake Jasper, relinquish the mining lease application. “We see this as a logical step and an act that a responsible corporate entity would take.”
Mr Russell called upon the Minister for Mines, Bill Johnston, to apply a Section 19 of the Mining Act over the excised area next to Lake Jasper. This will ensure the Gingilup-Jasper Wetlands area will not be available for any new mining applications, whilst the government is preparing the Plan for Our Parks nominations.
For further information please contact Coalition Spokesperson Andy Russell 97761559
Yoondadadup Lake Jasper Conservation Values
The Lake Jasper – Gingilup wetlands are one of the most significant wetlands in WA and Lake Jasper is one of Western Australia’s few large freshwater lakes. It is undamaged by human activity. As a near pristine component of the Gingilup-Jasper Wetland system of freshwater lakes, marshes and shrub-swamps, it is a breeding ground to 25 species of waterbirds, such as the endangered little bittern.
The proposed mineral sand mine is on wetlands excised from the D’Entercasteaux National Park in 1996. Over the years all previous proposals to mine have been dropped and the Government had promised to return the land to its original tenure – National Park. Recent discoveries show the Government failed to live up to its promise.
In a recent letter from The Premier Mark McGowan to Andy Russell, D’Entrecasteaux Coalition spokesperson based in Pemberton.
The Premier stated “I am also aware of the environmental and cultural sensitivities of the Gingilup-Jasper wetland system, and community concern for how a proposed mining operation could affect Lake Jasper and D’Entrecasteaux National Park. Changing the purpose or class of reserves involves addressing a range of matters, including native title and stakeholder input. Noting this, I can advise that processing of the mining lease application has been suspended while a greater understanding of the issues is obtained, and our intention is to reinstate this area into D’Entrecasteaux National Park”. (our emphasis)
This is a subtle but significant change of wording from recent Environment Minister/Ministerial letters that have stated – ‘Once I have the necessary information, I will consider the return of this area to national park”. (our emphasis)
The nearby former Jangardup mineral sand mine, which ceased production in 2004, has an acid plume moving through the superficial aquifer. This was confirmed by the Environment Minister (Questions on Notice12022019). Acid Sulphates are a very real issue in this zone. This is the second mine to be declared polluting – and that is two out of two – a 100% failure rate. Sulphuric acid groundwater plumes around both former mineral sands mines, Beenup and Jangardup, are warning enough of the environmental dangers.
And we should be questioning this statement that it takes a great deal of work to change tenure back to a National Park – the Government certainly didn’t complain about the bureaucratic complexities when excising the land out of the National Park. It seems a very lame excuse for not acting.
D’Entrecasteaux Coalition spokesperson Andy Russell 039 846 4935 Andy Russell <email@example.com>
16th December 2018
Indigenous Custodians Share SW Wetlands Dismay
The indigenous custodians of Yoondadadup country, including Elder Wayne Webb and other members, hosted a large group of people from around the South West to Yoondadadup Lake Jasper.
This was a response to their alarm that there are 5 major tenements across the Scott Coastal Plain from Yoondadadup Lake Jasper in the east to Beenup in the west.
These major tenements include an Astro Resources NL retention licence over 3500ha; Iluka Exploration Licence (pending) 16 Blocks; Cable Sands (Cristal) retention licence; Cable Sands (Cristal) Mining Lease and the Strategic Sands (SER) Mining lease (pending).
The group, members of the D’Entrecasteaux Coalition, represented communities from the Albany, Denmark, Bridgetown, Pemberton, Margaret River,Nannup and Northcliffe. Their hosts oriented them to the sacredness, heritage, environmental richness and natural beauty of Yoondadadup Lake Jasper.
Mr Webb explained that Yoondadadup is the “creation place” of the Pibulmun Nation, and that his maat-family had continuous connection to this Boodjara (country).
“Pibulmun Wadandi Elders and cultural custodians, and other neighbouring clans of Aboriginal people, are deeply disturbed that their cultural beliefs and traditions could be severely impacted upon by any mining activity”, he told the group.
The Gingilup-Jasper Wetland System between Pemberton and Augusta is regarded by the South West community as a national icon to be protected at all cost.
The proposal by Strategic Sands to mine vast areas of this wetland system are unacceptable to a majority of people.
Following the overnight event, Coalition Co-Convenor Geoff Evans joined with the Elders in calling upon Strategic Sands to relinquish the Mining Lease application M70/1385, and upon the government to return the excised Lake Jasper area to D’Entrecasteaux National Park.
Local Eco-Tourism Operator andCoalition member, Andy Russell, queried why the Government has exposed Yoondadadup Lake Jasper area and the Scott Coastal Plain to the potential for extreme industrialisation.
“Any disturbance to the lake, its wetland system and surrounds will destroy important indigenous cultural sites, recreational values, as well as threaten a very important conservation area. This site is sacred to all West Australians. It’s our largest natural freshwater lake in the southwest and deserves to be preserved and not destroyed”, he declared.
The visiting group were grateful for the opportunity to be welcomed to the country, and recommitted the eight environmental groups forming the Coalition to petition and lobby to save the area from mining.
For further information please contact Andy Russell on (08) 9776 1559.
Elder Wayne Webb and Geoff Evans share a quiet moment at Yoondadadup Lake Jasper.
And a group photo at Yoondadadup Lake Jasper.
Lake Jasper, too magnificent to mine.
Media Release – New Threat to Ancient Lake.
10 Oct 2018
Recent investigations have uncovered a newly approved application for a mineral sand mine on the banks of the ancient and sacred Lake Jasper on WA’s south coast.
This contentious Mining Lease went through the Department of Mines Warden Court recently with no acknowledgement to historical community concerns.
This area has been the focus of major social, cultural and environmental conflict since 1988 when the then WA state government decided to excise land from D’Entrecasteaux National Park to facilitate exploration and a potential mine on the banks of the ecologically important Lake Jasper – WA’s largest permanent freshwater lake.
After exploration licences were granted (back in 1988), major mineral sand mining companies such as Cable Sands and Bmax Mining tried to get a mine in operation on the banks and catchment zone of Lake Jasper. Finally in 2010 the last mining proponent withdrew their application citing the potential environmental disaster they could not overcome involving Acid Sulphate Soils(ASS). It was declared the acid sulphate soil issues of the area was never going to be overcome as is evident at the nearby Beenup environmental disaster site. Beenup was a nearby mine that BHP closed due to ASS contamination of the Scott River water shed and ASS damage to mining equipment. Environmental damage and health concerns are still an issue today at Beenup with acidic sulphates leaching into the water system. The government has confirmed that acid sulphate soils exist at the proposed mine lease adjacent to Lake Jasper.
So despite a history of community concerns and with no community consultation the Department of Mines and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions has allowed Strategic Energy Resources to have a mining lease within this sensitive and fragile lake system.
We are not aware of any consultation or notification with past stakeholders, local community, indigenous community, environmental groups, local tourism associations, Landcare groups about the resurfacing of this major contentious environmental issue.
With a history of countless mining court hearings, hundreds of past mine objectors, contentious state government policy changes, related High court decisions – it seems very suspect that no community group with past links to this issue was notified.
The State Government was elected promising environmental responsibility and owes it to the public of WA to readdress this approval, and once and for all return this land and the banks of Lake Jasper into D’Entrecasteaux National Park.
Warren Environment Group
08 9776 1559