You may think 40 years of recommendations to the government by the EPA for better protection of some of our most precious land formations would have achieved something by now.
You would be wrong.
Development on some of the world's oldest land formations, that are in our backyard in the Midwest, has reached the point now that the EPA has publicly announced they are deeply concerned.
The Banded Iron Formation Ranges of the Goldfields and Midwest Regions (BIFs), are hot property for miners. They are rich in iron ore and other minerals which are fetching top dollar on world markets, and companies are lining up to get the rights to dig it up and ship it off.
But ironically, and unfortunately, the EPA says the ranges with the highest conservation value are the exact same ranges the iron ore miners are targeting first.
Rob Jefferies from the Geraldton Iron Ore Alliance, who is also CEO of the Midwest Chamber of Commerce, spoke to the ABC. He said "A lot more could be done through proper investigation and good communication between all the parties to maximise the conservation outcomes at the same time as generating more certainty for the iron ore industry."
In the article, the ABC says the Geraldton Iron Ore Alliance thinks "more research is required to ensure industry and the environment can better co-exist in the Yilgarn region."
More than the 40 years worth of research that has already been done, apparently.
Here's some amazing facts about the ranges in the Midwest that miners are actively targeting, from the latest EPA report:
The BIF Ranges of the Yilgarn Craton are places of extraordinary natural heritage and scientific value. They are ancient ranges; laid down at the bottom of the sea over two billion years ago. The ranges were formed through uplifting, and have been undisturbed by seas or glaciers for more than 250 million years. They are amongst the oldest landforms on earth. One range, Jack Hills, contains crystals of zircon that are older than any other material identified on earth, representing the earliest evidence for continental crust and oceans.
The report goes on to describe numbers of plant and animal species that exist nowhere else in the world.
The EPA has been calling on governments to hurry up and put measures in place to conserve at least some of these incredible ranges.
But still to date there are no BIF ranges protected from mining development through secure (Class A or National Park) conservation tenure.
In fact, at least four developments that were given the nod by the EPA in the last seven years, were done so only on the condition that the government would put aside the same amount of land or more in the form of a National Park or Class A Nature Reserve... which never happened.
In light of the lack of protection offered to our region's assets, the EPA has declared it will not approve any more developments until the necessary protections are in place.
Relevant Contact Information:
State Government Contacts:
Minister for Environment; Heritage:
Albert P Jacob