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Don’t forget to read : "In the Press" for all current and past bauxite articles covered by the Toodyay Herald!!!

Waste dumps and tailings in Julimar?

By Doug Blandford*

I READ with interest the article in the May edition of The Toodyay Herald regarding the results from exploration drilling in the Julimar area west of Toodyay.

There is no doubt that the initial results confirming the presence of nickel, copper and the platinum group elements (PGEs) including palladium, is significant in terms of both supply and demand at a global scale.

There are many issues in having a highly attractive ore body in close proximity to Perth and port facilities.

Such proximity suggests massive cost savings for the miner.

Any mining operation associated with the extraction, processing, and refining of a nickel sulphide ore body, and particularly one containing the platinum group elements will have a suite of potential environmental impacts.

Such a mine will require waste dumps and tailing storage facilities and the infrastructure associated with a mine of this type.

This means a crushing plant and a concentrator/drying plant.

The concentrated ore then needs to be processed to extract the minerals and the type of ore body suggests that this would involve two stages, a pyrometallurgy stage and a hydrometallurgy stage.

These are smelting and flotation plants.

They are big and they are complex.

The presence of such infrastructure in the hills environment of the ore body, would change the local area to an industrial complex.

The project is very much in its infancy at this stage, but the ore still has to be treated to produce a saleable product.

If the processing does not take place on site, then it has to be transported to a facility that can accommodate the required infrastructure.

A lot really hinges on the processing and refining systems technology available, and appropriate for specific mineral extraction.

The presence of palladium and associated minerals adds a further complex system to the extraction process.

At the time of writing this letter, the spot price of palladium was about $92,000 a kilogram.

There will be some interesting trade-offs between on-site processing and refining and sending a concentrate elsewhere for refining.

Any form of on-site pyrometallurgy must be examined very closely in terms of stack emissions and plume dispersion over the proximal Swan Coastal Plain and the eastern and northern suburbs of Perth.

What we would call the ‘zone of influence’.

Experience from plume dispersion modelling from the Gidji Roaster, which was decommissioned in mid-2015, showed that even from this site, which was 15km north of Kalgoorlie on the Goldfields Highway, a contaminant plume (the roaster stack was 180m tall) moved down to the coast and out to sea, only to be returned to the coastal plain with the south-westerlies later in the day.

The next stage of this project will involve further exploration drilling and ‘infill’ drilling to tighten up on ore body dynamics.

If exploration moves into the Julimar State Forest, the State regulators must require strict environmental management conditions as part of the approval to drill within the boundaries of the forest.

As a minimum, a botanist and zoologist should accompany all exploration activities to ensure that the habitat of the now well-established Chuditch, or Western Quoll (Dasyurusgeoffroii) is not disturbed and that exploration activities are not carried out within 50m of rare flora.

This will indicate how seriously the regulators, at both the State and Federal levels, will be in addressing environmental protection and management of the potential impacts resulting from project implementation.

And air pollution of the Perth environment on the coastal plain and the western Darling Plateau is just one of them.

* Toodyay resident Doug Blandford is a retired Environmental Earth Scientist.

Coming to terms with nickel terms

THE LIFTING of the intra-state border at Morangup and Toodyay Roads on May 18 gave AHMAG members the chance to catch up and discuss the recent blanket pegging of 2300sq/km of Toodyay Shire by Chalice Gold Mines for nickel, copper and platinum group element (PGE) exploration.

It’s a rare discovery and the exploration company’s haste to secure the valuable resources means AHMAG has to come up to speed about some of the terms used in the exploration phase of mining.

The confirmed find on private land on Keating Road in Julimar is known as a ‘greenfield’ site, an unchartered area where minerals are found where they were previously not thought to exist.

Chalice is using two types of drilling methods – diamond and reverse circulation (RC).

Diamond drilling probes the contents of ore deposits by withdrawing a small core of rock, usually about 47mm in diameter, from the ore body for geologists to analyse.

RC drilling uses dual rod drill holes which allow the drill cuttings to be transported to the surface for analysis.

The company has also conducted an electro-magnetic (EM) aerial survey of a 24km-long target, 10km north of the confirmed resource but still needs to get State Government approval to gain access to verify the potential resource which is located in the Julimar State Forest.

While EM surveys are a quick and economical method of locating metallic conductors, they are not foolproof, and on-ground testing is needed to verify the find.

The type of ore identified in the Julimar area is nickel sulphide.

Because the Julimar find has also identified copper and the PGEs palladium, platinum, rhodium, ruthenium, osmium and iridium, the area may be mined using a combination of both open-cut and underground mining.

Six years ago, AHMAG members were getting their heads around the extraction and processing of bauxite and examining its negative environmental impacts. We now have to investigate what effect nickel mining could have on our community and natural surroundings.

We will all have to closely monitor Chalice’s application to mine in a State forest where a vulnerable population of Chuditch (Western Quoll) live.

Hopefully we will soon be out and about at local events with new information on what impacts the Chalice project may have on the Avon Valley environment.

Chalice’s reverse circulation drilling rig in Julimar. Photo: Chalice Gold Mine’s website.


Chalice Gold Mines

Chalice Gold Mines’ recent application for 10 new exploration licences covering 2300sq/km in the Shire of Toodyay easily eclipses Yankuang’s bauxite tenements in our area.

The May edition of The Toodyay Herald ran a front page story (see below) outlining Chalice’s move to blanket peg the shire for nickel, cobalt, copper and palladium and provides an overview of the company’s aspirations to explore in environmentally sensitive areas including Julimar State forest which is close to Chalice’s 180sq/km live tenements in the West Toodyay area.

While the Julimar Project is in the early stages of exploration, the company told The Toodyay Herald that it would take from 4-8 months to gain State Government approval to drill in the forest and two to three years to establish if the resource is commercially viable for large-scale mining.

Toodyay environmental scientist Doug Blandford has advised AHMAG that:

“If the early work identified that the ‘resource’ would support a mine, and that markets were out there, then environmental investigations would be started. If done properly, this would take at least a couple of years and should, as a pre-mining minimum include:

  • Vegetation and flora
  • Fauna
  • Soil landscapes
  • Air quality
  • Local and regional light emission
  • Current climate and weather patterns
  • Surface hydrology
  • Surface water quality
  • Ground water resources
  • Groundwater quality
  • Transport infrastructure
  • Socioeconomic demographics
  • Land use for pastoral pursuits
  • Land use for national parks, reserves etc.
  • Pre-mining/disturbance noise environment
  • Air quality modelling associated with plume dispersion of pollutants, including stack emissions such as sulphur dioxide, dust and particulate matter

In coming months the negative impact of Covid-19 on the WA economy means the State government is more than likely to favourably view Chalice’s applications to explore in environmentally sensitive areas and we should all be concerned.

TOODYAY townsite and most of the shire has been blanket pegged for nickel after “spectacular” results from test drilling on a Julimar cattle farm two months ago. Chalice Gold Mines shares have skyrocketed 700 per cent last month amid claims that Julimar could become a major new nickel province of significant strategic importance for Australia. The Julimar find includes high-grade nickel, cobalt and copper which are “very important” metals for making batteries for Tesla and other electric cars, and palladium which is used in hydrogen fuel cells and to control vehicle pollution – all highly valuable commodities on world markets.

Chalice currently holds 180sq/km of active exploration tenements in the western part of the shire from Keating Road to Dewars Pool and has pegged a further 2300sq/km across covering most of the rest of the shire from Hoddys Well to Wattening, and Nunile to Lower Chittering and the border of Morangup. Chalice is chaired by mining entrepreneur Tim Goyder, brother of AFL Chair and former Wesfarmers, Qantas and Woodside chair Richard Goyder who owns Glendearg Farm on the Bindi-Bindi-Toodyay Road.

Initial results from about a dozen Chalice test holes drilled about 500m south of Julimar Road to a depth of 250m on an 800-acre Keating Road cattle farm were described this month by Chalice Managing Director Alex Dorschas “a once in 10 years discovery”.

“If this turns out to be what we think it is, it will be pretty substantial find of strategic interest for Western Australia,” said in an exclusive interview with The Herald.

“It looks like it could be a sizeable deposit of hundreds of millions of tonnes.”

Lower Chittering residents say they are concerned about increased traffic on Julimar Road if mining proceeds.

The Avon and Hills Mining Awareness Group (AHMAG) says it also has concerns about the Julimar project and is keeping a close watch on developments.

Mr Dorsch said his company had pegged most of the shire as a precaution to prevent rival companies pegging for the same minerals near the Keating Road discovery.

“It’s what miners do,” he said.

He said main ore body was thought to lie in the shire’s west and extend into Julimar State Forest, where Chalice conducted preliminary electromagnetic aerial surveys before seeking permits to start test drilling. The new area being sought includes part of the Avon Valley National Park and several conservation reserves which would require special State permission for further exploration drilling.

Mr Dorsch said the location was unique because it was near an existing heavy freight rail link to a coastal port and close enough to the city for miners to sleep in their own beds at home and commute to work instead of having to work Fly In-Fly Out at a remote minesite.

The Julimar location was valuable also because Australia was a more stable and safer country in which to operate than Africa’s Democratic Republic of Congo, where most of the world’s cobalt is currently mined.

Further drilling would determine whether the Julimar ore body could be worked by underground mining or open cut.

Chalice currently has $25 million to fund further exploration. Mr Dorsch said it would take 4-8 months to gain State Government approval to drill in Julimar State Forest, and two or three years to know whether the ore deposit big enough to be commercially viable for large-scale mining.


Residents need a say on extractive industries

SHIRE councils can merely express their position on allowing open-cut mining in their area as the final decision on a mining proponent’s application is made by the WA state government.

However, when it comes to having a say on extractive industries, local government decides whether an application to quarry materials such as gravel, stone, clay and sand will be permitted.

AHMAG welcomes the recent opportunity to comment on Toodyay Shire Council’s draft Planning Policy No 23 ‘Extraction Raw materials’ and has made a submission outlining areas of concern which the current draft does not address.

The draft makes no reference to consultation and advertising requirements for development applications.

There are numerous instances across state shires where the advertising period for submissions was ill-timed (over Christmas) or too short or was placed in an inappropriate media outlet.

In other words, residents who will be directly impacted by the application know nothing about it until after the project is passed and work commences.

The draft policy has nothing relating to any requirements for extractive industry proponents or the shire to liaise with government agencies regarding environmental issues.

Particular areas of concern are the availability of water resources, noise, dust, weeds, dieback, vibrations from trucks and blasting, land clearing and drainage which can all have a negative impact on residents and the environment.

Toodyay Shire Council has the authority to set restrictions on the number of vehicle movements and operating times and should ensure the safety of all road users and lessen the impact on residents’ amenity.

The proposed massive gravel pit at 3650 Toodyay Road Bailup first came before the Mundaring Council in late December 2017 and it is still in limbo due to Main Roads concerns about an additional 132 heavy-vehicle movements per day.

By contrast, in August 2018 Toodyay Shire Council swiftly approved Boral’s application to increase granite extraction at Cobbler Pool Road from 50,000 tonnes to 300,000 tonnes a year which resulted in many more heavy-haulage trucks on Morangup and Toodyay Roads.

Boral is still awaiting the outcome of a scheme amendment to its proposal to change the resource zoning on the granite quarry at Red Hill to include a waste ‘recycling’ facility for building rubble.

The Gidgegannup Progress Association and West Gidgegannup Landowners believe the proposal is a step towards industrialising a resource area which would allow extractive industries to evade their responsibility to rehabilitate the land once the resource has been exhausted.

It’s heartening that the majority of current Toodyay councillors are concerned about the environment and the potential negative impacts of extractive industries projects and we expect them to closely scrutinise and query proponents’ applications.

Extractive industries are here to stay and council needs to ensure that stringent conditions are applied and monitored for compliance so industry and residents can co-exist harmoniously.

Next month we will report on Chalice Gold Mines’ recent discovery of a vast resource of nickel-copper palladium sulphide in the Julimar area near Toodyay.

As with all community organisations at this time, AHMAG has had its wings clipped in terms of fundraising activities so please consider becoming a member. It’s as cheap as chips, only $10 a year.

New name, same old bauxite threat

LATE last year Bauxite Resources Ltd (BRL) changed its company name to that of its wholly owned subsidiary Silica Quartz Group Ltd (ASQ).

Readers may recall that BRL was the joint venture partner of Yankuang Bauxite Resources Ltd when they set up shop in Toodyay trading as Bauxite Alumina Joint Venture (BAJV) which set its sights on mining 62km2 of local bauxite between Morangup and Toodyay.

Yankuang now controls these BAJV tenements and has since extended its tenements in the Avon Valley but the rebadged BRL has also not given up on its interest in mining bauxite.

The company has found a new Chinese partner HD Mining & Investments Pty Ltd which is the wholly owned subsidiary of Shandong Bureau No.1 Institute for Prospecting of Geology & Minerals.

The HDM website states that it is “currently working towards obtaining a 40 per cent interest in the bauxite rights of several tenements under the joint venture which are wholly owned by ASQ.

“HDM are fully funding exploration activities and their interest will be triggered if HDM enters into a binding commitment to undertake a feasibility study on the tenements.

“Should HDM and ASQ make a subsequent decision to mine, then HDM will earn an additional 20 per cent interest in bauxite rights on the tenements.

“ASQ maintains 100 percent interest in all other minerals.”

If the joint venture with HDM is successful there are two large tenements near Toodyay which will be mined.

The biggest is south of Old Plains Road adjacent to the Bindoon Training area (E 70/3405) and the other (E70/3160) is in West Toodyay. To locate the area of proposed mining sign up to LandTracker Maps – it’s free – and insert the above co-ordinates.

Early this year, ASQ stated that its “primary focus has been the acquisition, exploration and development of bauxite minerals deposits in WA with the aim of capitalising on developing markets in China”.

While ASQ recognises that due to oversupply bauxite/aluminium prices have been depressed, it remains “ready to move and is now focussing on the commercial development of its bauxite resources to supply into direct shipment ore (DSO) export to international customers”.

Even with a new name and new dance partner the former BRL remains ready to hit the floor when the bauxite/aluminium market bounces back.

AHMAG keeps its eye on all open-cut mining

OUR SMALL but active group has survived another year and will continue to spread the message that the threat of open-cut mining in our area has not gone away.

Mid-year, Yankuang Bauxite Resources Ltd allowed a small parcel of tenements to lapse which led to speculation that the Chinese state-owned mining proponent had packed its bags and gone home. All of Yankuang’s remaining bauxite tenements are still live, and the earliest we will know if they intend to quit the area will be in early April when its exploration licence for its Wundowie/Bailup resource area expires.

Meanwhile, Yankuang has been joined by open-cut mining proponents Northam Iron Pty Ltd, Australian Vanadium, Lithium Australia and Mercator Minerals which intend to mine locally. With the additional threat of iron ore, vanadium and lithium mining, AHMAG has rebadged several items of merchandise from “No Bauxite Mining” to the more inclusive “No Open-Cut Mining”.

Our parliamentary petition which opposes all open-cut mining within a 100km radius of Perth continues to grow with more than 4000 signatures collected at local events. Facebook followers remain steady and this year we have had several new members sign up. Membership is as cheap as chips; $10 a year, so show your support by signing up on Facebook or by writing to PO Box 111 Gidgegannup WA 6083.
We would like to thank all who have donated plants and unwanted items which generate much-needed funds to keep us afloat.
Each month we must find more than $100 to cover public liability insurance so we can go out and spread the message.
Special thanks this year to Sandra Harms, Jeanette Appleby, Jo and Phil Hart, Rosemary and Miska Madacsi, Heather and Geoff Appleby and Leonie Woods for coming on board when needed.

The events team – Hope and David Jones, Shan Diver and family and Ieva Tomsons continued to spread the message during fundraising activities, and we end the calendar year in a healthy financial position.

Season’s greetings and Happy New Year to everyone – see you next year.

Local shows bring towns together

AHMAG congratulates recently elected councillors Ben Bell, Phil Hart, Rosemary Madacsi, Bill Manning, Susan Pearce and Beth Ruthven and looks forward to their in-principle support to oppose open-cut mining in Toodyay Shire.

October was hectic for the AHMAG events team with three shows and a car boot sale to attend. 

This year the Toodyay Agricultural Show and the Wundowie Iron Festival were held on the same day which stretched the team and its resources to the limit. Our spare marquee which took a battering at last year’s Iron Festival finally gave up the ghost with another wind gust at Wundowie sealing its fate. The team in Toodyay enjoyed blue skies and the well-attended Show generated pages of signatures opposing open-cut mining within a 100km radius of Perth. Our calico bags and new stubby holders sold well and the Lucky Cup game attracted numerous players. There was no need to unpack our information gear as the next day we were all off to the Morangup Progress Association’s car boot sale with loads of donated plants and items.

Thanks to everyone who donated goods, in particular Peter and Esther Wunderliy, Di and Brian Dale, Ric Jones and Sue Bussell. Ric propagates plants for AHMAG and his fair prices for unusual specimens contributed to a bumper day of fundraising. In just over four hours we raised almost $350 and the support from local Morangupians was really appreciated.

After a two-week break we were at the Gidgegannup Agricultural Show on October 26 – a bumper day for both fundraising and petition signatures.

Congratulations to the Toodyay Agricultural Association, Wundowie Progress Association, Morangup Progress Association and Gidgegannup Agricultural Society for pulling together such well-run events. Staging large community events takes countless hours of volunteer commitment and without them Toodyay, Wundowie, Morangup and Gidgegannup would lose a place where locals can catch up and discuss what’s happening in their area.

If you have unwanted items to donate for the Gidgegannup swap meet on Sunday November 17 please contact Hope and David Jones on 9572 9072.

Shan Diver (left) at the AHMAG stall in Morangup with customer Sue Bussell. Photo: Phil Hart.


NINE candidates have nominated to stand in the Toodyay Shire Council elections which close on Saturday October 19 and AHMAG has asked them if they oppose or support open-cut mining in the Avon Valley and hills.

The eight candidates who reject open-cut mining in our area are Beth Ruthven, Ben Bell, Phil Hart, Rosemary Madacsi, Brian Chambers, Susan Pearce, Bill Manning and Bruce Campbell. Bruce Guthrie said he was undecided as he would like to research the matter further. 

Remember, you can only vote for a maximum of six candidates, so make your vote count.

Fundraising for not-for-profit community groups such as AHMAG is vital to keeping groups afloat.

Throughout the year we run wood raffles, attend swap meets and sell plants at the Midland Farmers Market but October really puts us through our paces.

This month we will be spreading the message about the threat of open-cut mining to our local communities at two agricultural shows, one festival and a car boot sale.

Our fundraising sub-committee will be stretched to the limit this year as two events, the Toodyay Agricultural Show and Wundowie Iron Festival will both be held on Saturday October 12. The next day, Sunday October 13 we will be up again early to set up to sell plants and donated items at the Morangup Progress Association’s car boot sale at Morangup Hall in Wallaby Way.

The team gets a bit of a breather for a weekend before we attend the Gidgegannup Agricultural Show on Saturday October 26. Over the past five years we have sold pens, rainfall charts, stickers, stubby holders and keep cups to ensure we stay action ready for when the open-cut mining proponents resume their activities in earnest.

Stocks of our popular No Bauxite Mining in Avon and Hills stubby holders are now totally depleted and graphic artist Sandra Harms has produced a similar design with our mascot Nutbuster, the endangered Carnaby’s Cockatoo, sending a new message of No Open-Cut Mining in Avon and Hills. Sandra has also created a stunning Banksia design for a new line of merchandise, the calico eco-shopping bag which we hope will give Nutbuster a run for his money.

Pop into the AHMAG tent at any of these events, say hello, and show your support by purchasing any of our new items. It’s a small price to pay for making sure we protect our environment.

If you would like to donate plants or unwanted items for the car boot sale and future swap meets, please contact Hope and David Jones on 9572 9072.

Make your vote count


Nine candidates have nominated to stand in the Toodyay Shire Council elections which close on Saturday October 19 and AHMAG has asked them if they oppose or support open-cut mining in the Avon Valley and hills.

The eight candidates who reject open-cut mining in our area are Beth Ruthven, Ben Bell, Phil Hart, Rosemary Madacsi, Brian Chambers, Susan Pearce, Bill Manning and Bruce Campbell.

Bruce Guthrie said he was undecided as he would like to research the matter further.

Remember, you can only vote for a maximum of six candidates, so make your vote count.

Young people get that there’s no Planet B

At shows and events where we collect signatures for parliamentary petitions opposing local open-cut mining, we are often approached by young people wanting to pledge their support to save our environment. When we tell them that they must be over the age of 18 to sign, many are disappointed that they can’t have their say.

Today’s young people understand that we need to recycle, stop littering and work towards having a sustainable future and tt water and our fragile ecosystems need to be protected. A recent world-wide movement by school and university students to strike on Fridays to protest climate change has seen demonstrations in 112 countries by hundreds of thousands of young protesters. Adults in positions of authority have both praised and criticised the school walkouts with Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying, “What we want is more learning and less activism in schools”. The students say it is their future and that the lesson of climate change is the biggest they will ever learn. Their placard messages are to the point – “There’s no Planet B”, “Your profit is our loss,” “One day we will vote”.

In July conservationist Sir David Attenborough told British MPs that the most encouraging thing he saw is that the electors of tomorrow are already making their voices very clear.     “I’m OK, and all of us here are OK, because we don’t face the problems that are coming,” he said. “But the problems of the next 30 years are really major problems that are going to cause social unrest, and great changes in the way we live and what we eat. It’s going to happen.”
Environmental awareness ranks high for today’s singles and some rate it well above a prospective mate’s earning power. According to a small article in The West Australian in mid-July titled “Tall, dark and eco-friendly”, one third of singles “find a potential partner more attractive if they champion green issues, while almost a quarter regard eco-friendly habits such as recycling as must-have traits in a new date”.     And last month, a five-year-old wrote a letter to The Herald expressing displeasure at littering and called for all to take action. The captains of industry, of whom many are grandparents, don’t seem to give a toss about the environmental legacy they are leaving their descendants.     On the bright side, it won’t be too long before they will have to explain to their kids and grandkids why they have left them to clean up the environmental mess which they could have stopped.

AHMAG remains action-ready

TO KEEP non-members up to speed about AHMAG activities over the past year, we are publishing an edited version of our newsletter.

We are currently in caretaker mode and keeping an eye on the mining tenements. It takes too long to re-establish the organisation if mining activity accelerates and our association intends to stay action-ready.

Most residents believe that Yankuang Bauxite Resources Ltd has given up on the proposal to mine 62km2 in Morangup/Wooroloo but this is not true. Yankuang’s bauxite tenements are still ‘live’ and they include Julimar and Hoddys Well in Toodyay. Other companies, Lithium Australia, Northam Iron Pty Ltd and Australian Vanadium have ‘pending’ and ‘live’ tenements in the Avon Valley for lithium, iron ore and vanadium which are also strip mined.

The AHMAG committee is now in its fifth year and members have come and done their bit and moved on as their circumstances change. A huge thankyou to Sandra Harms, Jeanette Appleby, Rosemary Madacsi, Jo and Phil Hart and Heather Appleby for their valuable contributions and on-going support.

This year we have continued to fundraise to cover insurance, event fees and build a small reserve for publicity for when mining reactivates. We have also run two wood raffles, sold plants, attended swap meets and four agricultural shows where we have come to know most local State and Federal MPs. Each month we publish columns in The Toodyay Herald and Gidgegram which are then re-posted on our website and Facebook page to keep the public informed on what’s happening in the local area. We are also keeping an eye on Swan Gravel/Trico Resources’ proposal to extract 900,000 tonnes of gravel a year at Lot 3560 Toodyay Road Bailup – a potential open-cut bauxite mine down the track.

Keeping a public profile is essential and at the time of writing 4000 people have signed our parliamentary petition to stop strip mining within a 100km radius of Perth.

Yankuang Builds on Exploration Block by Block

NEXT year in early April, part of Yankuang Bauxite Resources Pty Ltd’s exploration licence for its Wundowie/Bailup resource area expires.

But that’s not the end of it, as Yankuang can continue to apply for two-year extensions into the future as long as it meets Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety rules on expenditure and compensation to landowners such as Peter Cook who owns most of the land under exploration.

Using the department’s schedule of fees and charges for exploration tenements, Yankuang has to spend approximately $500,000 over 11 years to satisfy the expenditure conditions to maintain its licences at Morangup and Wundowie/Bailup.

The company has not only met the minimum expenditure requirement but has reportedly spent even more to explore the 62km2 bauxite resource.

Mining companies don’t talk in hectares or square kilometres, they talk in ‘minutes’.

Based on longitude and latitude, their tenements are divided into regular units of land called ‘graticular sections’ or ‘blocks’.

Depending on the latitude, a block equates to approximately 2.8km2 to 3.3km2, which gives Yankuang 21 blocks in the 62km2 Morangup-Wundowie/Bailup exploration area.

During the exploration phase before a mining licence is granted, the mining proponent can extract or disturb up to 1000 tonnes of material from the ground, including overburden, and can seek ministerial approval to approve extraction of larger tonnages.

There is no limit to the number of exploration licences an individual or company can hold but there is a limit on the number of blocks that can be included in one licence.

An exploration licence is limited to a maximum of 70 blocks in a ‘known mineralisation zone’ such as the Avon Valley.

As long as the blocks have at least one side in common with another in the group, it means that approximately 210km2 can be explored under one licence.

Since the original 62km2 exploration area was licensed in 2007, Yankuang has added four more adjoining exploration areas in 2011 and 2012 as well as another, as yet unconnected, site.

Even if we double the minimum expenditure commitments for the original Morangup-Wundowie/Bailup exploration area, this averages out to only $91,000 a year – peanuts for a Chinese state-owned company such as Yankuang.

Annual General Meeting

Who will clean up mining mess?

IN LATE March, a two-year Senate inquiry into the rehabilitation of mining and resource projects failed to reach an agreement and it is unknown whether the Federal Government, which is not obliged to respond, will act on any of the inquiry’s recommendations.

In WA there are more than 10,000 abandoned mine sites which ceased operating due to falling commodity prices, spiralling costs, changes in government policy or overt regulatory breaches.

The 200-page Senate report said “Abandoned mines occur when mining leases or titles no longer exist, and responsibility for rehabilitation cannot be allocated to an individual, company or organisation responsible for the original mining activities.

“Because of this, responsibility for any remedial works that are required to rectify environmental problems on these sites generally falls to government and, ultimately, Australian taxpayers.”

In other words, companies can exploit legal loopholes to avoid their environmental obligations and we are left to deal with the mess.

One tactic is to place mines into an indefinite period of ‘care and maintenance’ during which no rehabilitation occurs on the site which has effectively ceased operating.

Another, is larger resource companies on-selling their stake to a smaller company which cannot feasibly undertake the rehabilitation obligation the original company signed on for.

During the Senate inquiry’s visit to WA in March 2018 it was revealed that companies don’t have to disclose mine closure/rehabilitation costs and that by going into liquidation they can walk away without meeting their environmental obligations.

A Mining Rehabilitation Fund of industry contributions was set up in 2012 to rehabilitate sites of companies that have gone broke, and more than a few have, but the legislation to update mine site rehabilitation obligations has not been updated.

The inquiry heard from The Environmental Defenders Office of Australia which determined that incomplete or inadequate mine site rehabilitation can lead to serious long-term environmental and social costs.

Given that the taxpayer has footed the bill for the two-year inquiry which visited six states and looked at numerous mine sites, AHMAG hopes that the government will follow up on the recommendations which will prevent mining companies from leaving future generations with a huge environmental and financial debt.

Congratulations to the Gidgegannup Small Farm Field Day organisers for another top event and thanks to all who signed our petition to stop open-cut mining within a 100km radius of Perth.

Keep in touch at or write to PO Box 111 Gidgegannup WA 6083.


Submission Update
STILL no news of when Mundaring Shire Council will discuss the Swan Gravel/Trico Resources application to extract gravel at Lot 3560 Toodyay Road Bailup.

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