Government Proposes to allow Mining in Heritage Listed Wilderness Sanctuary

Dear Editor

We are greatly concerned that the SA government is proposing to allow the mining company Marathon Resources to mine the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary in the Northern Flinders Ranges.

My family have previously lived and worked at Arkaroola for over 10 years and we know and love the area and are afraid that it may all disappear if mining of this beautiful place is allowed. We believe any mining in Arkaroola would have dire consequences for the area if it is allowed to go ahead.

Marathon Resources mining exploration lease in Arkaroola was suspended last year when it was discovered that they had illegally dumped a huge amount of radio-active waste in various places such as creek beds in the Sanctuary, this was only from exploration drilling so we dread to think what mess a real mine would leave. Now, after a slap on the wrist it’s ludicrous to hear that the government are about to allow the company back into the sanctuary again!

It seems the government has attempted to dress up its proposal to allow mining to proceed and have released a glossy document called ‘Seeking a Balance’ in which they propose to rezone the entire current ‘Class A’ area, as they say will better protect the sanctuary, we believe its quite the opposite – studied carefully one would see its actually a serious downgrading of protection for Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary. The zones don’t correspond to any natural or cultural divisions in the landscape. Infact, if anything they seem to be just a device to allow the discredited Marathon Resources to set up camp in the very heart of Arkaroola’s spectacular highlands and adjacent to the acclaimed Ridgetop Tours.

Under these proposed zones many popular tourist areas will be free to be mined such as – natural waterholes (required for the survival of the sanctuarys’ rare and endangered species like the Yellow Foot rock wallaby), also Mt Gee, a unique mountain of crystal and a geological monument, which amazingly is even Heritage Listed! But it doesn’t stop there – other Heritage Listed mountains are allowed to be mined as well, such as Mt Painter and the Armchair. Sillers Lookout, the most well known feature of Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary is also in the firing line. My family finds this completely appalling and ask is there nothing that money can’t buy!

We believe the government’s proposal is deeply flawed – the idea that there can be a happy balance between mining and a wilderness sanctuary shows a distinct misunderstanding of wilderness concepts and practise. In addition, many key areas were overlooked, including the care of the cultural sites of the local Adnyamathanha people, corridors for the wildlife to move to adjacent areas and even the great number of tourists to this part of SA, were ignored. Arkaroola has over ten thousand visitors every year, many from overseas, who enjoy the spectacular scenery and the wildlife of South Australia’s pristine outback, however the governments proposal gives no comment toward the richness of their experiences.

SA already has two uranium mines and many others soon to start; there will only ever be one Arkaroola. If mining is allowed, the infrastructure that goes with it such as heavy trucks, slurry pits, mining buildings and access roads criss-crossing the sanctuary, will make a mockery of the title ‘wilderness sanctuary’.

Having lived in Arkaroola and experienced the beauty for many years our family believes the landscape is unique and irreplaceable and as such is well worth keeping free of mining. Anyone who has visited the sanctuary would say the same. The government is closing public opinion on this proposal on December 19th, and if readers would like to stop the destruction of this precious place to conserve it for our children we invite them to find how to help on 

Yours sincerely, The Watts Family, Minnipa

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7 replies »

  1. I share the concerns of the Watts family for the future of this iconic treasure house.

    The government’s proposed access zones open significant parts of the sanctuary to the threat of continued minerals exploration and subsequent mining.

    The areas currently identified exist within a hierarchy of access rights, but there appears to be no rigorous protection of the areas.

    The government report states: “As new information comes to light over the years ahead on the region’s resource potential and geoscientific values and on the environmental, landscape and biodiversity values…the management zones will be further refined to ensure that the unique environmental and landscape values of the region are protected.”

    There is no comfort in the wording of this statement: it simply proclaims a major loophole in an already deficient set of so-called “protections”.

    What is required is not a flawed management plan but ongoing legislative protection of the region’s unique aesthetic qualities, its geological treasures, and its endangered or rare fauna and flora.

  2. The DEH and other Public Servants are letting us down so bad on this. Try downloading the so called spaital maps and all 5 different file formats cannot be opened by 98% of people. Does that tell you something about this bullshit company and SA gov departments? We have until the 19th Dec to send our views to try and stop the end of Arkaroola visit
    Yours sincerely,

  3. It’s not the governments job to serve the people. It’s governments job to serve britain and get those minerals out no mattr who they have to run over.
    they don’t care about beauty or culture. it’s a snatchand grab only much more obvious.
    marathon and south australia are both companys so what do we expect. the govement are answerable to britain and noone else.
    we get the promise of some scraps. in reality they have no powre over us unless we give it to them that whya they need the police and the army to protect the mines for them. wait and see.

  4. Why don’t all you people get together? After reading the links and looking at this, it seems you all want the same thing, I’m assuming for each other but everyone is only working on their own suburb.

    What about the people leasing the sanctuary land that most likely belongs to the local tribe? The lady operating the tourist park is all for uranium. Maybe you should lobby her as well. After all you can’t have uranium energy and nuclear weapons without mining it somewhere.

    This is from the web:

    Uranium mining in the far north of South Australia at the Beverley location near Arkaroola Wilderness Resort is being openly challenged by Aboriginal Traditional Owner Mrs Enice Marsh.

    She is concerned that the new Beverly Four Mile uranium mine is destroying sacred sites, polluting the environment unnecessarily, and promoting a culture of bullying.

    “If mining continues to expand it will be a total disaster all round: what will happen to the land, the water, the bush tucker and the animals?” she said.

    “There’s no independent monitoring up there, Mrs Marsh said and “the mine only has a life expectancy of eight to ten years but would leave a legacy of damage for generations to come”

    Mrs Marsh feels it is her duty as an Adnyamathanha Traditional Owner to speak out publicly about the destruction of culturally significant sites that she has witnessed first hand and about the risks of uranium mining.

  5. I can’t see why they shouldn’t keep the mining of uranium all in one place. I read in the news that about 80 drums of radioactive waste was being shifted from Edinburgh RAAF base to a new waste dump at Woomera.

    The DoD is getting an approval to turn an old explosives storage building into the Koolymilka waste storage facility in the Woomera prohibited area so they don’t have to cart it through our suburbs.

    We don’t want it. If you choose to live over there in a mining area then you jolly well need to keep it all together and learn to manage it.

  6. Mike – Serve the People, makes some good points…the sharemarket says no mining will occur…ie the investors are not taking the scam seriously so why should anyone else?

    And the Spriggs always were and still are a pro-uranium family so where is the consistency or the logic in their appeal? They also support the geothermal (Petratherm) operation which is a clear threat to the Paralana Springs and said aquifer source.

    On top of this the support of other pro nuke people inc Sen Minchin makes no sense.

    Conclusion: The campaign is false and disingenuous so any thoughtful person should not take any notice and focus attention on real areas of concern next door ( raison d’etre of the smoke and mirrors campaign) ie Beverley 4 Mile Creek and Petratherm Paralana.

    Rest assured there will be no mining at Arkaroola as previous sharemarket scams over the past 20 years have already revealed.

    Very…lets say…naughty and mischievous campaign :)

  7. to shareshark and Maxine – Lets not loose focus of what we are aiming for here – saving Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary from being Mined. Spriggs are only for mining on the flat featureless plans, they do NOT want the spectacular mountains and crystal caves mined – ie they do not want mining at any cost as even some mining companies have agreed – mining should NOT be at any cost! We are talking about saving Arkaroola – not stopping any mining anywhere. Arkaroola is too precious to destroy….. for anything.

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