More than four years after the Minister for Planning first required an Environment Effects Statement (EES) be prepared for the Fingerboards mineral sands mine proposed in East Gippsland, Victoria, the public hearings to consider the proposal are about to commence.
An Inquiry and Advisory Committee appointed to make findings on the environmental impacts of the project will hold public hearings for nine weeks, commencing on Monday 3 May 2021.
EJA is acting for Mine-free Glenaladale, a community group opposing the mine. The Fingerboards mineral sands mine is a proposal by Kalbar Operations Pty Ltd to construct an open cut mine on highly erosive soils and in very close proximity to the Mitchell and Perry Rivers. Both rivers flow into the Gippsland Lakes, wetlands recognised as being of international significance under the Ramsar Convention. For these and other reasons, the community says this is the wrong place for a mine.
On behalf of Mine-free Glenaladale, EJA will be strongly opposing the project at the public hearings, arguing that the environmental effects of the project are unacceptable. In particular, EJA will raise community concerns about:
- contamination of waterways and excessive extraction of water;
- risks associated with the particular landscape proposed to be mined (i.e. 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.
The public hearings will be conducted as a hybrid between videoconference and in-person attendance. The first 6 weeks of the hearing will be conducted online, and the final two weeks will be conducted in person in East Gippsland (depending on COVID19 restrictions) to enable the local community to make their views known in person.
Members of the public can attend the online hearings by using the Zoom link available here.
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 hear barrister Emily Porter give her opening submission on behalf of Mine Free Glenaladale at 2:23:03 here.