The Coober Pedy Regional Times newspaper, in both its print and online versions, has been a courageous champion of the environment.
The report below is sourced from the online CPRT.
BEVERLEY 4 MILE CLOSURE DEMAND AS MINERS "JUMP THE GUN"
Posted on July 28, 2009 by Coober Pedy Regional Times
Traditional Owners call for immediate halt to uranium operations at Beverley 4 Mile
Vada Ardlanha (above) is a place close to the mine site where the spring water is constantly hot and in the winter has steam rising off it. Traditionally Vada Ardlanha is a religious site, intricately connected to Adnyamathanha understandings of radioactivity and the uranium ore.
Traditional Aboriginal owners of the country that includes the Beverley 4 Mile uranium deposit are outraged with mining operations having commenced prior to the completion of State and Federal approvals processes.
Last week Traditional Owners visiting the site were greeted by new fences and locked gates. They were advised by company representatives that future visits would require company consent and supervision as the mining site was ‘already operational’.
Community members believe the company has pre-empted the Australian approvals process as Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett has not yet approved a Monitoring and Management plan, a Mine Closure plan and a Community Engagement plan, all of which are required prior to the start of mining works at Beverley 4 Mile.
Similarly Petratherm announced the commencement of drilling without community consultation being satisfied and without a Risk Assessment being obtained to satisfy community concerns of their intentions regarding chemicals use and contaminated waste disposal procedures.
“On the 4 Mile a number of important South Australian Aboriginal heritage assessment processes are also currently unfinished or incomplete. This was not the deal. The company has jumped the gun. Our community is being left out and our concerns are being ignored,” said Adnyamathanha elder Enice Marsh.
“We want the Federal and State governments to make this company stop work now.”
Traditional Owners and custodians are deeply saddened and angered by the position taken by the mining company Quasar Resources, an affiliate of the US weapons and nuclear energy corporation General Atomics (see attached statement).
STATEMENT FROM TRADITIONAL OWNERS
Adnyamathanha Elders Turned Away from Sacred Lands
CUSTODIANS TREATED LIKE DIRT OVER LAND GRAB
A disastrous Work Area Clearance under Native Title left one Adnyamathanha woman extremely distressed by the attitude of the mining company; as a result she went missing for hours and a full scale search was required.
‘This is not respectful consultation, this is extreme bullying and treating women like dirt’ says Enice Marsh who experienced this frightening event as one of the party went missing for hours.
‘And neither Heathgate nor the anthropologist has spoken publicly on this dreadful event that may have ended in tragedy; there’s just been a big cover up over the whole thing. And those of who took part in the site survey back in April 2009 have never received a copy of the Anthropological report, nor have the Native Title Named Applicants that represent Adnyamathanha.
‘We haven’t even seen the report in draft form, so we could make comment on it before the Anthropologist sent it off the Heathgate’ claims one person. We are just left out in the cold, used up by the mining company to make it look like they are doing the right thing’.
‘It’s the land that is precious to us, not the money that Native Title offers as a bribe. On a visit to the area last week we followed the route we used since we were small children living on the area with our parents … only to find that this route has now been fenced off and locked up. We were then told by employees of Heathgate Resources that the Beverley Four Mile mining site is ‘already operational’ so the only way we can visit is through the main gates as supervised guests of the company.
WHERE’S THE HONOUR MR. WEATHERILL?
Our reaction was one of shock and disbelief: ‘How can the extension at Four Mile Mine already be up and running? What about the heritage investigation that’s taking place’ said one distressed Elder.
‘We want to be able to visit our land in private, not have mining company people gawking at us as we share our stories of how important the land is to us and our old people that have passed on’ said another Elder. ‘Leave it then, let’s not visit … we will just have to sit around the fire back at our campsite. We have no choice but to sing our songs somewhere else, share our stories about our love for our Yarta (country)’
The heritage survey formally instigated by Minister Jay Weatherill is still underway, yet the mining proponent continues on, uninterrupted in their destruction of our lands.
Aboriginal people are only being employed in low paid and unskilled jobs; where are the apprenticeships and long term investment of money for our future generations? They are just not there.
This is the reality of so-called ‘benefits’ for locals – damage to our cultural sites, unrestricted pollution of the water and contamination of the soil, destruction of animal habitat – these can never be rehabilitated.
And due to lack of environmental best practice rehabilitation is simply not necessary in the eyes of SA government and the mining industry. Shame on the Rudd Labor Government for allowing mining companies to openly abuse the lands and waters of South Australia!
BLACK & WHITE COMMUNITIES SHAFTED IN THE SNATCH ‘N GRAB
‘The local people in the region are being shafted – black and white.’ says Mrs Marsh. ‘People are being forced into going along with the Native Title process on both sides and it’s time the public started to see the full picture. The precious little amount of water we have in our State is being polluted right under our noses, yet water is the lifeblood for people in arid Australia. And the only way people will get the full picture is from those of us who really care about the environmental and cultural value of the land in South Australia, from the local people. Our government Ministers are behaving just like the miners – it’s ‘snatch and grab’ and leave the mess behind for future generations to have to deal with’ .
ATLA – DUTY OF CARE A MOCKERY
The governing committee for Native Title known as ATLA did not make a submission when the Four Mile PER was out for public comment, yet there are many sites on the floodplains that have been identified by old people that needed to be properly protected. This should have happened before exploration started. ‘The female Anthropologist that went out with us recorded some of our sites, but we have not yet seen the final report. And we know now that the mining company is already in there under the Mining License’ says Mrs Marsh.
Old people say that ATLA has a duty of care to all Adnyamathanha yet it fails to act to protect our sites and speak up for the people that are subject to abuse by the mining company. ‘
Why should it be left up to the Elders to speak up for our country? When is ATLA going to start working for Yuras instead of the mining companies and lawyers?’