Terri Irwin to fight wildlife reserve mine
Mining company Cape Alumina has lodged a mining lease application for an area that encroaches on the 135,000ha Bertiehaugh Cattle Station, which was purchased by an Irwin family company with the help of a Federal Government grant after Steve Irwin’s death in 2006.
Renamed the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve after the late Crocodile Hunter, the land is about 50km north of Weipa on Cape York, in far north Queensland.
Ms Irwin today said the area was home to rare and threatened plant and animal species that must to be protected.
“We have found a number of plant species which are very vulnerable, but the surprising thing is, there have been some four plant species which have never been recorded on western Cape York,” she told ABC radio.
“That’s just remarkable and, of course, there’s rare bird species, the spear-tooth shark, sawfish, and estuarine crocodiles.”
Cape Alumina chief executive Paul Messenger said the company would work closely with all key stakeholders in developing its Pisolite Hills bauxite project.
“We have no plans to develop in sensitive wetland areas of Cape York,” Mr Messenger said.
“Our project is very much centred on a dry bauxite plateau.”
Cape Alumina’s environment consultants had indicated the area to be mined is “not of concern”, Mr Messenger said, with the project affecting just 200 hectares of the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve.
“Nevertheless, we recognise the Weipa bauxite plateau does have a number of distinctive features,” he said.
Environmental impact statements (EIS) are to be undertaken later this year and in 2009, and Queensland Sustainability Minister Andrew McNamara said the views of both sides would be considered.
“Cape York’s a difficult area for balancing these things, and I think that, with good sense on both sides, we can have those resources mined but also look after the values that are there,” Mr McNamara said.
Ms Irwin said she would be willing to take her fight to court.
“Setting aside this land will not break the bank for Cape Alumina, and yet it would make such a huge difference environmentally,” she said.
“So we’re going to plead our case and I can’t imagine the situation couldn’t be resolved because it’s just a kind of a lay-down misere (a dead certainty) that this particular area needs to be protected.”