Kalbar Resources, a company that has no mining experience, proposed a mineral sands and rare earths mine at Glenaladale, near Bairnsdale in East Gippsland.
After several years of investigation, the Minister for Planning has announced that the environmental effects of Kalbar’s Fingerboards mineral sands mine are unacceptable, and therefore the application has been refused.
Kalbar believed the site is suitable for an open cut mine to extract minerals including zircon, rutile and ilmenite — a titanium mineral, and rare earths. Kalbar planned to extract about 200 million tonnes of ore from the site over 20 years.
The Lindenow flats, a high-value agriculture production region situated on the banks of the Mitchell River, is as close as 500 metres from the edge of the proposed mine's boundary.
The Minister’s decision
Mine Free Glenaladale, who led the seven year campaign against the proposal said in a statement to supporters:
"This is only the third project to be rejected through an Environment Effects Statement (EES) process in over twenty years, so this is clearly a very significant outcome. It’s a momentous and historic win for the thousands of people concerned about the negative and potentially irreversible impacts of that mine proposal. The decision follows many years of work by Mine-Free Glenaladale (MFG) to raise awareness about those impacts, culminating in the highest ever number of objections to a mine in an EES process.
MFG is extremely grateful to Minister Wynne and the Andrews Labor Government for listening to the community’s concerns in making this decision which we consider is in the best interests of our Shire and this State. If you can send an email to Minister Wynne to thank him that would be appreciated: [email protected]
This outcome would not have been possible without the contribution of our many supporters. Most importantly, we want to acknowledge Environmental Justice Australia (EJA) for their expert legal guidance and support over many years, which was predominantly on a pro-bono basis. EJA identified and secured our barrister Ms Emily Porter who decided to offer her services on a pro-bono basis. Ms Porter's performance at the Inquiry and Advisory Committee (IAC) Hearing was truly magnificent, backed by strong legal counsel from EJA. EJA also obtained highly qualified expert witnesses at significantly reduced rates for the Hearing; their evidence was a critical component of the community’s case.
Also, we are indebted to the East Gippsland Shire Council for voting unanimously against Kalbar's mine proposal and for defending the interests of this community as a legally represented party at the IAC Hearing.
We acknowledge the tangible and intangible cultural connections of the traditional owners to the Fingerboards area and we are deeply grateful to the Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Corporation (GLaWAC) who made their opposition to the mine project clear.
There are too many community groups and businesses to separately acknowledge however we would like to give specific thanks to the Bendigo and District Environment Council, the East Gippsland Community Action Group, Friends of the Earth (Melbourne) and the Kanagulk Landcare Group for their support and guidance over many years and to the Victorian Greens Party who have been another strong advocate against the Fingerboards mine proposal.
Today is definitely a day for celebrating, however the Minister’s decision on the EES is not quite the final step. His decision is a recommendation to other government decision makers (like the EPA), so over the next few weeks we’ll be monitoring their response to Minister Wynne’s recommendations".
Thanks once again for everything you have done to help achieve this incredible outcome!
Further background on the proposal is available here.