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The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

McArthur River Mine - consultation begins

Media release
22 January 2009

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Traditional landowners, McArthur River Mining and Commonwealth ministers have 10 business days to provide comment on Environment Minister Peter Garrett's proposed decision on the McArthur River Mine expansion.

Mr Garrett has advised the key stakeholders that he intends to approve with conditions the proposal to expand the mine's open pit which includes the diversion of the McArthur River.

"My decision is limited to protecting matters of national environmental significance under the EPBC Act, in this case the freshwater sawfish and a number of migratory birds. I will ensure that they will be protected by any decision I make and any conditions I apply."

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 in operation. The decision related to the procedures that should have been followed rather than the merits of the decision.

"Following a thorough assessment of the information provided to the former minister on this proposal and all other relevant information, I am proposing to approve, subject to strengthened conditions, the expansion of the open pit to the east," Mr Garrett said.

"I am required under the federal environment legislation to consult with my Commonwealth colleagues, but will also give McArthur River Mining and the traditional owners the opportunity to comment on my intended decision and approval conditions to ensure procedural fairness.

"These consultations will run concurrently to avoid delaying my approval decision.

"I will consider any submissions they provide to me before I make my final decision.

"As I have stated previously, I am moving on this matter as quickly as possible but at the same time, I need to make sure that the process, and any decision I make, is robust and legally sound.

The 10 business-day period will end on 6 February 2009.

Commonwealth of Australia