Submissions

submissions to support our cause Download: Submission to Standing Committee on Environment and Public Affairs February 2019

 

Attn: Mrs Maddison Evans, Committee Clerk
Standing Committee on Environment and Public Affairs
Parliament House
PERTH WA 6000

Dear Committee Members,

PETITION NUMBER 098 – PROTECT LAKE JASPER FROM MINING OF ANY TYPE AND REINSTATE LAND SURROUNDING THE LAKE BACK INTO D’ENTRECASTEAUX NATIONAL PARK

Thank you for the opportunity to provide a written submission to the Standing Committee on Environment and Public Affairs regarding Petition No. 098 – Protect Lake Jasper from mining of any type and reinstate land surrounding the lake back into D’Entrecasteaux National Park. I confirm that I wish the Government/Committee to inquire into the matters raised in the petition. To the best of my knowledge, the issues described in this petition have not been taken to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administrative Investigations (Ombudsman).

It is vital that we protect Lake Jasper, the largest freshwater lake in Western Australia. It is a biodiversity hotspot – it is one of the five most important wetlands for waterbirds in the south west and a biological reservoir for native freshwater fish. It is the only known underwater Aboriginal archaeological site in Australia. The excise of 308 hectares of pristine Class A Reserve from the D’Entrecasteax National Park has threatened these cultural and environmental values and brought no economic benefit. It was a poor decision and it is time to rectify that mistake.

Mineral sand mining projects in the area threaten the environment. A major issue is that pyrite (a sulfide mineral) is known to occur at the Lake Jasper site. When pyrite is exposed to air in the presence of water, acid is produced, leading to Acid Sulphate Soils (ASS). These can be difficult and expensive to manage. The Lake Jasper area has been classified by the Department of Water as Risk Class 1a (Red) – that is, there is a high to moderate risk of ASS occurring within 3m of natural soil surface that could be disturbed by most land development activities.

The impact of ASS and other technical and environmental challenges encountered in the region also bring substantial business risks. In 1999 BHP suffered financial losses experimenting with its short-lived mineral sands project in Beenup due to ASS and other factors such as clay fines disposal. The mine had to be closed, and in 2001 the costs of clean-up and the loss of capital associated with the failed project were estimated to be $300 million. Other environmental issues that concerned community members have highlighted to me include siltation, pollution, chemical spills, the spread of dieback, and changes to the water table, particularly since mining operations could encroach to within 300m of the lake.

For these reasons, the Denmark Environment Centre spent 12 years fighting Cable Sands’ Lake Jasper mining proposal, with assistance from the Environmental Defenders Office. Ultimately, after long and complex proceedings, the Supreme Court deemed that objections to mining proposals on environmental and public interest grounds were valid. In addition, the EPA rejected a number of draft reports from Cable Sands on the grounds that environmental issues had not been adequately addressed. Cable Sands withdrew its application for a mining lease at Lake Jasper. Any proponent of a new mining application will face the same barriers.

Cultural issues are also of enormous concern. Indigenous custodians of Yoondadadup country, where Lake Jasper is situated, ask that land surrounding the lake be returned to the national park. Indigenous elders explain that Yoondadadup is the “creation place” of the Pibulmun Nation, and families have had continuous connection to the Boodjara (country). Elder Wayne Webb has explained that 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.

I support the call from the D’Entrecasteaux Coalition and Indigenous custodians for Strategic Sands to relinquish the Mining Lease application M70/1385. I support the petitioners’ request that the legislative Council moves to ensure that no mining applications for exploration or leases are approved and that no mining activity takes place in the area. I oppose any approvals of any applications for a mining lease in the area of Lake Jasper on the South Coast of Western Australia, and urge that this ecologically significant site is reinstated as part of D’Entrecasteaux National Park.

Yours sincerely,

Hon Diane Evers MLC
Member for South West Region

 

Legislative Council Committee Office

Parliament House I4 Harvest Terrace West Perth WA 6005

 

Ref: Petition No. 098 – Protect Lake Jasper

Submission prepared  by D’Entrecasteaux Coalition

Committee Clerk

Standing Committee on Environment and Public Affairs

Thank you for providing me with the opportunity to address the concerns raised in the petition.

The petition raised a number of issues, namely

  • To protect Lake Jasper from any type of application for a mining lease
  • Land previously excised from D’Entrecasteaux National Park to be reinstated as part of the National Park
  • The area has significant cultural heritage and environmental values that would be destroyed by mining

The area of concern was previously excised from D’Entrecasteaux National Park in 1996 is part of the Gingilup-Jasper Wetlands.

With a surface area of 4 sq. km. Lake Jasper is one of Western Australia’s few large freshwater lakes that is relatively undamaged by human activity. The Lake is a near pristine component of the Gingilup-Jasper Wetlands System of freshwater lakes, marshes and shrub-swamps.

Lake Jasper is 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. (Roger P. Jaensch, Waterbirds in Wetlands on the South Coast of Western Australia, Summer 1991-2.1992, Wildlife Research Centre, CALM, Woodvale, WA).

Referring to potential threats to waterbirds by sand mining activities in the catchment areas of Lake Jasper and Lake Quitjup, Jaensch reports that: Lowering of depth by as little as 30-50 cm in spring or early summer would probably dry out large areas of shrub thickets and tall or low sedges, thereby rendering the wetlands unsuitable for breeding by the little bitterns and most other waterbird species. This result would be unacceptable at Lake Jasper in particular because it is ranked third amongst the 27 wetlands in terms of number of species found breeding. 

The area Strategic Sands proposes to clear and mine falls within Lake Jasper’s winter-spring floodzone, an area that is a surface water catchment for Lake Jasper.

A mine adjacent to Lake Jasper at this location would disrupt natural surface flow into the Lake and any unseasonal high rainfall event could result in the transfer of mine wastes, which include radioactive sediments, into the Lake itself.

A study on the hydrology of the Lake Jasper area identified a connection between the groundwater, surrounding surface water and the Lake. Lake Jasper’s surface water and groundwater recharge area occurs to the north and west of the Lake corresponding with the proposed mine area. (Dr. J. V. Turner et al, CSIRO Groundwater – Lake Water Interactions near Lake Jasper, D’Entrecasteaux National Park (1996))

(Dr J V Turner et al, CSIRO report – Hydrological Impacts of Mineral Sand Mining at Jangardup) provides detailed information about the drawdown of groundwater at the former Jangardup mineral sands mine from mining operations. The report found that groundwater drawdown was up to 0.5 metres to a distance of 1.5km. Strategic Sands’proposed mine would operate 300 metres from Lake Jasper and in the centre of the Gingilup-Jasper wetlands. Given the identified connection between Lake Jasper and the shallow/superficial groundwater aquifer a similar drawdown would have significant negative impacts on Lake Jasper and the surrounding Gingilup-Jasper Wetlands.

Strategic Sands’ proposed mine will essentially cut the Gingilup-Jasper Wetland ecosystem in half permanently damaging the ecology as complete rehabilitation will not be possible due to the altering of soil structure and composition.  The surface and groundwater hydrology will be drastically altered and the ecological connectivity significantly damaged through the Gingilup-Jasper Wetland area. Therefore, there is the potential for the proposed mine to have significant negative impacts on Lake Jasper.

Dust from mining activities could also be deposited into the Lake and surrounding wetlands.The former mineral sands mine at Jangardup was recorded as carrying out emergency discharges of large amounts of contaminated water off-site. Such activity near Lake Jasper would result in contaminated wastewater being discharged into the D’Entrecasteaux National Park (Gingilup-Jasper Wetlands or Lake Jasper itself).

The State’s Environment Protection (South West Agricultural Zone Wetlands) Policy outlines the protection of wetlands requires activities that would degrade or destroy wetlands should be prevented such as

  • discharging water into wetlands or excessive pumping or drainage of water from wetlands;
  • carrying out excavation or mining operations in wetlands;
  • damaging or clearing emergent or fringing native vegetation of wetlands;

The former Jangardup mineral sand mine, which ceased production in 2004, has a sulphuric acid groundwater plume moving off-site through the superficial aquifer. This was confirmed by the Environment Minister in a recent Parliamentary Question (Questions on Notice12 Feb 2019 No. 1785).Jangardup is the second mineral sands mine to create a sulphuric acid groundwater plume in the south-west. BHP’s Beenup mineral sands mine had to close down after only two years of operation due to so much sulphuric acid being created by the mining process the mining became untenable. The sulphate plume emanating from the former Beenup mine is approximately 1.5km from the Scott River, extract from Hansard [COUNCIL – Wednesday, 11 September 2002] p735b-735b and acknowledge that the plume will one day reach the Scott River, within the Scott National Park. The geologic conditions at Beenup and Jangardup, acid sulphate soils, are very similar to that through the Gingilup-Jasper Wetlands adjacent to Lake Jasper.When acid sulphate soils are disturbed by mining activity they oxidize and create the sulphuric acid groundwater plumes such as the plumes now present at these two mine sites.

A Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia (Australian Nature Conservation Agency 1993) identifies Lake Jasper together with the Gingilup Swamps as a wetland system of National Significance. 

 Listing of Sensitive Areas or River Systems within the Category 2 Drainage Basins, (Fisheries WA, 2000) notes the importance of the Lake Jasper wetlands. Reason – Contains a number of high conservation status streams that link via Lake Jasper to the most important fish habitat in the south west, the Scott Coastal Plain and the D’Entrecasteaux National Park.   

The Lake Jasper region is of important archaeological significance. The WA Museum has completed a study of Australia’s only known underwater prehistoric Aboriginal site at Lake Jasper. It has been dated at up to six thousand years old.

Research by C F Dortch and J M Godfrey in Australia Archaeology 31 December 1990 recorded 9 Aboriginal sites on the floor of Lake Jasper.

Lake Jasper sits within the very popular D’Entrecasteaux National Park and its main recreation site will be affected by industrial noise, dust, highly visible lights and wildlife disturbances, which will destroy the values the area was acknowledged as containing and preserved for.

As part of the Reserves Bill in 1996, which excised the area from the National Park and downgraded it to a 5 (1) (g)  Class Reserve, the then State Government promised to return the land to its original National Park tenure if the mine (Cables Sands original proposal) did not proceed. On Thursday, 27 June 1996 the then Mines Minister Norman Moore  stated in Parliament the Government’s commitment that in the event that mining did not take place for environmental or other reasons, the land excised from the D’Entrecasteaux National Park  would be reincluded into the National Park by way of a future Reserves Bill. Since then State Government’s have failed to live up to this commitment. The area continues to be of high ecological value.

In a recent letter from The Premier Mark McGowan to Andy Russell of the D’Entrecasteaux Coalition. 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”.

 

submissions to support our cause Download: Minster for Environment response to Petition No.98 – 28 February 2019

Minister for Environment; Disability Services; Electoral Affairs
Deputy Leader of the Legislative Council

Your Ref:     Petition 098
Our Ref:       62-12768
Hon Matthew Swinbourn MLC
Chair, Standing Committee on Environment and Public Affairs
Legislative Council Committee Office
Parliament House
4 Harvest Terrace
WEST PERTH WA 6005

Dear Mr Swinbourn

Thank you for your letter received in this office on 14 February 2019 regarding Petition No 98 which relates to protection of Lake Jasper.

The State Government is aware of the 1994 Government commitments to reinstate the area that was excised from D Entrecasteaux National Park (now within Crown reserve 44705) if the company that previously held a mining lease in this area did not proceed with its mining proposal. I understand that through 2009 and 2010, when that mining proposal was discontinued, the previous Government chose not to proceed with reinstating this area into the national park.

I am also aware of the environmental and cultural sensitivities of the Gingilup-Jasper wetland system, the reported effects of previous mining operations in the region and community concern for how a proposed mining operation in the locality 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, and I also note that the area concerned is subject to the South West Native Title Settlement.

Taking these matters into account, I can advise that processing of the mining lease application has been suspended while a greater understanding of the issues is obtained and that the Government’s intention is to reinstate this area into D’Entrecasteaux National Park.

Yours sincerely

Hon Stephen Dawson MLC
MINISTER FOR ENVIRONMENT

Level 12, Dumas House, 2 Havelock Street, West Perth, Western Australia, 6005.
Telephone +61 8 6552 5800 Facsimile +61 8 6552 5801 Email: Minister.Dawson@dpc.wa.gov.au

28 Feb 2019

submissions to support our cause Download: Minister for Mines response to Petition No.98 – 6 March 2019

Hon Bill Johnston MLA
Minister for Mines and Petroleum; Energy; Industrial Relations

Our Ref:      71-09692
Your Ref:     Petition No. 098

Hon Matthew Swinbourn MLC
Chair
Standing Committee on Environment and Public Affairs

By email: env@parliament.wa.qov.au

Dear Chair

STANDING COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS REGARDING PETITION NO. 098 PROTECT LAKE JASPER

Thank you for your correspondence dated 14 February 2019 regarding the petition from the Hon Diane Evers MLC seeking to protect Lake Jasper from any type of mining activity and reincorporate the land surrounding the lake into the D’Entrecasteaux National Park.

I confirm that on 6 August 2018 the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) received an application by Strategic Sands Pty Ltd for Mining Lease 70/1385 (M70/1385). I am advised by DMIRS there were no objections lodged to the application and it was compliant with the Mining Act 1978 (Mining Act).

The application includes the Jangardup South deposit which is recognised as a significant heavy mineral sand resource. The land containing this resource was excised from the D’Entrecasteaux National Park to create Conservation and Resource Management Reserve 44705 (CR44705) to facilitate mining of the deposit.

CR44705 is managed by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) and therefore the application for M70/1385 was referred to DBCA seeking the recommendation of the Minister for Environment in accordance with the reserved land provisions of the Mining Act. DBCA is currently considering the matter, and while that consideration is undertaken, progress on the application has been suspended.

Once the recommendation from the Minister for Environment has been received, further consideration can be given to the application.

I can reassure you that the determination of resource tenure within sensitive areas of the State is undertaken in conjunction with the appropriate regulatory authorities. This consultation and referral ensures that the grant of mining tenure can only proceed where appropriate levels of protection are afforded to safeguarding the environment.

If a mining lease was to be granted over the area, the proposal would still need to be considered and assessed under the relevant environmental and heritage laws of Western Australia, including the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 and the Environmental Protection Act 1986, before any mining was allowed to proceed.

Yours sincerely

Hon Bill Johnston MLA
Minister for Mines and Petroleum; Energy; Industrial Relations

6 MAR 2019

Level 9, Dumas House, 2 Havelock Street WEST PERTH WA 6005 Telephone: +61 8 6552 6700
Email: Minister.Johnston@dpc.wa.gov.au