SA Water reports could lead to court

SENATOR: Independent member of the Legislative Council John Darley, Senator Nick Xenophon and Saving Our Sustainability chairman Milton Stevens toured the Koppio Hills Fusion area last week.COURT action could result if SA Water does not make public documents about water quality issues relating to the proposed Fusion mine site.
Nanjing Night Net

Senator Nick Xenophon and independent member of the Legislative Council John Darley toured the Koppio Hills with local protest group Saving Our Sustainability on Thursday.

The group hosted a field trip of the area that will be affected by Eyre Iron’s proposed Fusion iron ore project, with the group telling Mr Xenophon and Mr Darley that SA Water had prepared reports about water quality issues in the area but had not released the information.

“If SA Water don’t provide the information, it could end up in court,” Mr Xenophon said.

“I could put my lawyers up pro-bono to do that.”

He said he was told a submission to the Parliament of South Australia’s Natural Resources Committee Eyre Peninsula Water Supply Inquiry stated SA Water let the company use drinking water for exploration.

Eyre Iron chief operating officer Steve Brown said Eyre Iron’s exploration drilling work to date had used mains water which was metered and billed accordingly.

Mr Xenophon said the group raised issues with him and Mr Darley about the potential effects of mining on the water resource and cropping land.

“There is the potential for dust from mining operations to devastate the crops around here,” Mr Xenophon said.

“The fact is, these people were here first.

“They’ve been farming the land for generations so any mining has to take into account their precedence.”

He said there could be wider-reaching consequences than just the mine area.

“It’s not just about farms out of Port Lincoln, it could affect Port Lincoln’s viability as well.

“My plea to Port Lincoln residents is to realise the farmers’ battle is theirs too.

“We’re not being alarmist, this is about water supply sustainability for the entire Eyre Peninsula.”

Mr Xenophon said the state government had to explain how mining would coexist with farming land in a catchment area.

“Both major parties have had their heads in the mineral sands on this one – or perhaps not the sand but the sludge.

“It seems the government and opposition have been blinded by the promise of a few hundred short-term jobs that could end up destroying thousands of jobs in the long-term.

“Do they want Eyre Peninsula to be agriculturally profitable, or a wasteland?”

He said there had also been suggestions that Wuhan Iron and Steel (WISCO), Eyre Iron’s joint venture partner, was no longer viable and being propped up by the Chinese government.

A state government or SA Water response could not be provided prior to deadline.

Mr Brown said WISCO, a Chinese state-owned enterprise, was ranked 328 on the Fortune 500 with annual revenues of $US 34 billion and assets of $US 37 billion.

“They are now ranked as the sixth largest steel group in the world with 36.4 million tonnes annual steel production.

“WISCO have government approval to further expand with the construction of a new 8.6-million tonne steel plant at Fangcheng port in southern China.”

Mr Brown said the company was still in the exploration phase of the project and any impacts on cropping would be part of the rigorous assessment process by the federal and state regulators.

He said Eyre Iron had publicly acknowledged water management was one of the biggest challenges for the Fusion project, from the perspective of regulation and approvals, community perceptions, and potentially running a mining operation in the future.

“Any future mine lease application will need to include extensive, scientific-based, third-party verified information on the existing water systems, the potential impacts of mining on these systems, and an adequate plan to manage identified risks.”

Eyre Iron’s proposed mining operation is designed to be fully self-sufficient for water, 100 per cent sourced from a small desalination plant at the proposed port.

Brine dispersion modelling is one of many of the environmental studies that need to be completed and reviewed by experts in order to gain full state government development approval for the desalination plant.

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