Legal case

The case to protect community from the impacts of a mineral sands mine in Gippsland

The Fingerboards mineral sands mine project is a proposal for a huge (1,600+ hectare) open-cut mine in very close proximity to two major waterways that flow into the Gippsland Lakes (which are recognised under the Ramsar convention as a wetland of international significance) as well as the highly productive horticultural area of the Lindenow Valley.

Locals are concerned about the project for many reasons: contamination of waterways, excessive extraction of water (impacting the nearby horticultural industry), risks associated with the particular landscape proposed to be mined (for example the soils are highly erosive and prone to collapse), risks from exposure to nasty toxics (including radiation), loss of native vegetation and habitat for threatened species, and general dislocation from a community and landscape that they love and call home.

Our clients, Mine-free Glenaladale oppose the mine due to its potential significant and unacceptable environment effects, including:

  • contamination of waterways
  • excessive extraction of water
  • loss of 200+ hectares of endangered and vulnerable native vegetation and habitat for threatened species
  • risks associated with the particular landscape proposed to be mined
  • risks from exposure to nasty toxics (including radiation)

The public hearings were conducted via videoconference and in-person attendance. The Opening Submissions made on behalf of Mine-free Glenaladale on the first day of the public hearings, Monday 3 May 2021, are available here. You can also hear barrister Emily Porter give her opening submission on behalf of Mine Free Glenaladale  at 2:23:03 here.

A huge win for community

After months of public hearings and on-the-ground campaigning, the Minister for Planning assessed the environmental effects of the Fingerboards mineral sands mine as unacceptable, meaning that the 1,675-hectare open-cut mine is now unlikely to proceed.

This is a massive win for our client, Mine-free Glenaladale, who led a strong community campaign to stop this mine. They found that over 85 percent of the community wanted to keep Gippsland mine-free. And after more than 260 of our supporters took action by writing a letter to the Minister, he listened and assessed the environmental effects of the proposed mine as unacceptable, meaning the mine can only proceed if decision-makers disregard the Minister’s Assessment.

 

“Our community is deeply grateful for the legal guidance and support provided by EJA. Their legal team took the time to understand the impacts of a proposed mine on our community, economy and environment, and presented our case in a compelling way at the hearings. EJA’s advocacy and representation ensured our community was able to participate as a respected party, exposing important matters that would otherwise have escaped attention. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for taking on such an enormous and continually evolving challenge, made much more difficult because of rapidly changing ground rules and our very limited budget.”

– Mine-Free Glenaladale

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