To the Editor,

At its Annual General Meeting yesterday, BHP Billiton CEO Marius Kloppers said the company will not relinquish the legal privileges contained in the Roxby Downs Indenture Act. This 1982 legislation largely exempts the Roxby Downs (Olympic Dam) uranium/copper mine from South Australian environmental and Aboriginal heritage protection laws and also curtails the Freedom of Information Act.

Kloppers said yesterday that the mine expansion requires the certainty that only an Indenture Act can Provide. Perhaps so, but that’s no excuse for weakened environmental and Aboriginal heritage protections. BHP Billiton proposes digging a pit of about 20 cubic kilometres, increasing uranium production to 19,000 tonnes per year, increasing water consumption to 150 million litres daily, and increasing radioactive tailings production to 70 million tonnes per year. Yet the company wants to retain its wide-ranging exemptions from the SA Environment Protection Act and the Natural Resources Act (including water management issues).

Mike Rann’s Labor government in SA has promised to apply the “strictest environmental standards” to uranium mining but seems unwilling to budge from the current practice of applying far weaker standards at Roxby Downs than those that apply to every other project in the state.

The projected annual export of 19,000 tonnes of uranium is sufficient to fuel 95 nuclear power reactors, which will produce enough plutonium to build 2,850 nuclear weapons each year. BHP Billiton (and state and federal governments) could minimise the risk of diversion through careful selection of uranium customer countries – but they don’t. The Roxby Downs expansion is heavily geared towards China with BHP Billiton planning to export 1.6 million tonnes of uranium/copper concentrate to China annually.

BHP Billiton also wants to export uranium to Russia even though International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards inspectors haven’t set foot there since 2001 and there is no requirement in the Howard/Putin uranium agreement for any IAEA inspections in future. Nor is there any provision in the Howard/Putin agreement for Australian inspection of nuclear facilities and stockpiles in Russia so we would be entirely reliant on international inspections – which are non-existent! Foreign Minister Stephen Smith will decide whether to allow uranium sales to Russia in the coming months.

Dr Jim Green             
Friends of the Earth

See also:


3 replies »


    Maybe yu’d like to add this to the story. The aborginal people seem to have more commonsense than they’ve been given credit for.

    They smell pending disaster in the wind, which is why they have survived climate change. Wake up Australia and wake up greedy shareholders. Stop contributing to the GREAT WATER SCAM. For once in your greedy life, listen to the small voice within and without.

    Statement to BHP Billiton and Shareholders at the BHP Annual General Meeting

    Kevin Buzzacott – Arabunna Elder
    27 November 2008

    You BHP, the biggest mining company in the world, and here we are the oldest peoples in the world. You should be listening to us about this land and the water.

    Two years ago when you BHP bought out Western Mining Corporation you bought a bad investment, you didn’t ask us, you didn’t consult with us. In the past I’ve told WMC that we didn’t want them to continue mining.

    We wanted them to stop mining and we wanted them to stop taking the sacred water out of the Great Artesian Basin. Now you BHP are doing the same thing and you want to make it bigger and you want to make it open cut.

    There should never be an open cut uranium mine in the desert.

    Do not expand this mine. We don’t want an open cut mine. We do not want any more water taken out of the Great Artesian Basin we want that to stop.

    To the Shareholders of BHP don’t invest any more money into this development, you will have a lot on your conscience. Sooner or later you will have to pay for the rehabilitation of that land, and you should know by now that this land is sacred.

    We don’t know if you shareholders understand the impacts of what you’re doing to the Arabunna people, the Kokatha people and other tribes around that area. You don’t understand what you’re doing to the land and the culture.

    My question to you BHP is, is it possible to close down the Olympic Dam Uranium mine, immediately, and if not immediately when is the soonest time possible that you can shut this mine down.

    Can you Shareholders make a decision in this meeting right now to close down the Olympic Dam Uranium mine or to take your shares and invest in something else … and are you prepared to compensate all Aboriginal People around Roxby Downs to rehabilitate that country?

    Kevin Buzzacott – Arabunna Elder


    The ‘Big Australian’ does need to wake up to itself, as do the shareholders, state and federal governments that are also party to the crime being perpetuated on this land.

    To hide behind an Act, one of dubious intent and content – an Act to remove obligation of responsibility, doesnt wash Mr Chair. The age of the reckless corporation ignoring concerned Australians and traditional custodians is over.

    This hole in the ground was and is a mistake and it brings into question the constitutional legality of an Act to excuse a corporation from the obligations any other ‘person’ would confront if they were to make threats to human health, water, traditional owners, and the ecology of the land. The spotlight is now on the architects of this Act and already peoiple are saying that its invalid, making this the largest illegal mining operation in the world ( or maybe Freeport is a close contender)

    On an economic level as well, a failure based upon this popular and ever so useful notion of ‘Climate Change’ wheeled out for re-use each time this issue is discussed. This argument is garbage when we look at the long term damage occuring to the ancient waterways and the levels of wasted investment in energy and materials sponsoring this insane hole in the ground – to do what? – Support growth consumer economies in some far flung corner of the world make more plastic things??

    The game is over and its time to pick up the phone and call responsible elders of Kevin Buzzacotts stature to wind down and close this operation and seek guidance on more useful and less harmful things to do.

  3. It is not surprising that BHP would have people believe it is a law unto its’ self. One must remember that the “COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA” is merely a Corporation registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission in the US (Registered Number 0000805157 – registered address 1601 Masschussetts Ave NW, Washington DC) – as are all the states and territories – merely publicly listed corporations.

    Both the Commonwealth and the STATE OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA have no interest in doing right by the people at either state or federal “level”.

    People must wake up to the fact that they do not have a lawful government, but, merely a board of executives (hence the term executive government) which are making decisions based upon corporation law in respect of either the state or the comonwealth (whichever applies in the situation).

    The reason for the step up in the speed of the SA governments’ wholesale sell out of the lands which still to this day belong legally to the (ab)Origine peoples is that they think by doing so they will beat the deadline of critical mass of people becoming aware of the truth concerning the fraud they are undertaking in selling lands which do not belong to either the state nor the commonwealth.

    Your politicians are aware they are committing this fraud, but due to the thuggery of their various police services they can intimidate and abuse those who attempt to stand in their theiving way.

    One needs only to look to the fact that if you are raped or bashed the police will take a week to come and interview you about it – but go speeding down the road 10 klms over the speed limit and you are pinched before you can blink an eye.

    The reason ?

    There is no profit for the corporation of SA in using its’ resourses to chase down a true criminal who has injured/damaged a community member in the streets or their home – but there is a profit in having one of their hired guns stop you on the side of the road for five minutes and strip you of $200 for doing 10 klms over the speed limit.

    And none of this even touches on the fact the STATE OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA doesn’t even own any of the lands they continue to sell fraudulently to innocent third parties without the authority nor consent of the continuing Sovereign owners.

    These scum in the parliaments can be justifiably proud of their “Royal” scam.

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