Petition to allow Cape York mining rejected by State Government


The Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve on the Wenlock River in Cape York. Photo: Peter Taylor

The government has rejected a petition calling for the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve mining ban to be reversed.

The government declared the reserve on Cape York a strategic environmental area in November.

A new planning instrument, it restricts land use to those considered appropriate. In the case of the Irwin reserve, that use is environmental.

But in making the declaration, the government ended the hopes mining company Cape Alumina had of its $1.2 billion Pisolite Hills bauxite project off the ground.

Managing director Graeme Sherlock gathered just under 400 signatures asking for the decision to be reversed, claiming it would cost the Queensland economy $3 billion in 'economic economy', a $600 million loss in state royalties and payroll taxes and a loss of $375 million for the traditional owners in royalties and employment.

"The claims of this being a unique area, an exceptional piece of biodiversity and in ecologically significant part of Queensland have not been supported by scientific research," the petition read.

"This is not one of Queensland's most environmentally significant areas. The vast majority of this reserve is typical Darwin Stringybark open forest found throughout Cape York. The proposed bauxite project by Cape Alumina was planning to mine just 1.5 per cent of the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve."

The petition said the mine could have co-existed with the reserve and asked the government to reverse the mining ban "and instead broker a win-win outcome for all Queenslanders".

Last month, deputy premier Jeff Seeney ruled out overturning the ban and he did so again in a response to the petition which was tabled in parliament on Thursday.

"I can assure the petitioners that the government remains committed to expanding the economy of Cape York by encouraging growth in the resource, agricultural and tourism industries," he wrote.

"...The government is creating an appropriate legislative and planning framework for Cape York that will enable new jobs, investment and economic opportunities to benefit all communities in the region while protecting important environmental areas and values.

"The government also continues to work with and discuss projects in further detail with mining companies and other proponents in the region."

Consultation has closed for the Cape York Regional Plan, with the government planning on introducing the finalised plan mid-year.

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