Tuesday, September 25, 2007

No Uranium Mining in Arkaroola!

The Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary is under threat.

Located in the northern Flinders Ranges (also known as the Gammon Ranges), Arkaroola has been one of the jewels in the crown of South Australian tourism, and is part of the traditional lands of the Adnyamathanha people.

Stolen from them by miners and pastoralists from the 1860s onwards, Arkaroola has never reverted to ownership by the Adnyamthanha people, but has been run since 1968 as a private wilderness park by the Sprigg family.

Just to the south of Arkaroola is an area that was established in 1970 as the Gammon Ranges National Park, and was the subject of an Indigenous Land Use Agreement between the government and the Adnyamathanha last year..

The Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges/Arkaroola Sanctuary area is a mineral-rich treasure house. Copper was mined there from 1860, and uranium was discovered by Douglas Mawson in 1910.

On the northern boundary of the adjacent Wooltana sheep station there is a naturally-occurring hot spring, Paralana. Its radio-active waters were thought by some to be beneficial to sufferers of certain ailments, and as a lad, staying at Wooltana from time to time, I remember how we had to be careful, as we drove to Paralana, to give people who had dug themselves into holes in the sand around the springs time to clothe themselves as we approached.

Arkaroola is classified as a Class A Environmental Zone which means that mining can only occur when the deposits are of such significance to the State of SA that all other considerations may be overridden.

What this means in practice is that uranium mining is almost certain to get the go-ahead from the pro-uranium State Labor Government which keeps prattling on about how South Australia is on the brink of a major minerals-led expansion of its economy.

Labor changed its “no new mines” policy last year after lobbying from, amongst others, former Federal Labor Senator Chris Schacht, himself a shareholder in a uranium exploration company.

In 2000, members of the Adnyamathanha community united with anti-uranium protesters and demonstrated at the Beverley Uranium mine, located between Wooltana Station and Lake Frome. The cops used state-sanctioned violence to suppress the protest (see here).

The lastest push for uranium mining on indigenous land comes from a company called Marathon Resources. The directors of the company, including a representative of China’s huge CITIC investment group, deserve to be named and shamed, so find who they are here.

No uranium mining at Arkaroola!

No comments: