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16 January 2009
Environment Minister Peter Garrett today said he is intending to act as quickly as he is able to make a fresh decision on the McArthur River Mine expansion.
The Federal Court ruled late last year that former environment Minister Ian Campbell's approval decision was invalid and a new decision was required even though the mine was now in operation.
"I visited Borroloola this week to meet the traditional owners and hear directly from them their concerns," Mr Garrett said.
"I also took the opportunity to inspect the mine site and talk to Xstrata officials.
"I'm well aware of the concerns of Xstrata and its demands for a decision to be made promptly, however it's also essential that I make a proper decision according to the legislation.
"It was the failure of a previous Minister to adopt such a thorough and rigorous approach that has led to the current uncertainty for all parties.
"My decision relates only to those matters of national environmental significance as listed under the federal environment legislation but also one that ensures the mine meets all the environmental requirements.
"I will be making my decision as quickly as possible while making sure that the process, and any decision I make, is robust and legally sound.
"Because I have to make a fresh decision, I need to review all the information that was available to the previous minister and any new information that is available since that time.
"I am also required, under the legislation, to consult on my draft decision with relevant ministers, and I plan to consult with the mine and the traditional owners on my draft decision.
"I am moving as quickly as possible to make a new and legal decision to give Xstrata certainty regarding its future operations."