Image for A black day for clean safe air, earth and water

On October 10th the Federal Labor government gave BHP Billiton the green light to a $30 billion Olympic Dam expansion which could see the creation of the planet’s biggest open cut mine crater.

Due to an ongoing South Australian Roxby Downs (Indenture Ratification) Act 1982, the Olympic Mine continues to remain exempt from South Australian environmental legislation which may act to circumvent Federal controls and restrictions.

The mine extension would seriously increase the mining of yellow cake alongside copper, gold and silver as reported in the Australian,

‘BHP said the expansion project, which will develop an open-pit copper, uranium and gold mine, had the potential to boost copper production from about 180,000 tonnes a year to 750,000 tonnes a year for decades’


Monash University’s Dr Gavin Mudhas presented an alternative, peer reviewed proposal for mining at Olympic Dam that would help mitigate serious risk potentials, but his proposal has not been considered by government,

‘Overall, not recovering the uranium is not only technically but could also help reduce energy and water inputs as well as pollution outputs for the next expansion, as well as helping to address the various environmental, public health, environmental and security hazards associated with uranium and the nuclear chain in general (p. 10).’


With this decision to give the go ahead for the expansion to the world’s largest uranium mine, a resetting of regulations would be needed to keep environmental risks in check –greater risks we have now delivered on to future generations making their task to protect air, earth and water ever greater.

Elder Kevin Buzzacot, an Arabunna man, whose traditional lands have been affected by the mine spoke out recently in opposition,

“’We don’t want that big great gaping hole in the desert,” he said.

“We just don’t want it, we never wanted Olympic Dam in the first place because it’s a sacred site and we’re trying to protect our areas’”


• Kay Seltitzas:

The Australian Greens policy on Mining is woefully inadequate in the current global rush to extract, use or stockpile mineral resources by overseas companies. Paul O’Halloran and Kim Booth need to have an urgent policy thinktank on this issue now. Their policy is a poor attempt at policy development that makes no comment about human health for miners and their families.

Put the people back into policy for protecting miners and their families, health and others affected by mine pollution.

Aust Greens Policy
Mining and Mineral Exploration

The Australian Greens want:

31. a viable mining and mineral exploration sector that meets stringent environmental protection standards.
32. all mining activity to be consistent with the desires and needs of affected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.


The Australian Greens will:

33. ensure that environmental and social impact assessments are rigorously applied and implemented on all mining proposals and projects.
34. prohibit the exploration for, and mining and export of, uranium.
35. oppose the establishment of new coal mines and the expansion of existing mines
36. prohibit mineral exploration and mining as well as extraction of petroleum and gas in terrestrial and marine nature conservation reserves, including national parks, wilderness areas and other areas of outstanding nature conservation value.
37. establish a national mining insurance fund, based on mining industry contributions, to provide resources sufficient to rehabilitate the environmental impacts of existing mining operations.
38. ensure that all new mining proposals include a fully costed and funded allocation for the restoration and rehabilitation of the impacted area(s) to world’s best practice standards.

Compare this to the recent TPEHN posted on this site:

and you wil see that there is still much more work to be done. Human health has to be at least as important as the environment in which we live, the water we drink and the air we need to breathe.