A massive new national park is to be created in Western Australia, ensuring that one of the state’s most iconic destinations is no longer at risk of being mined.
After extensive negotiations, a 45-year state agreement that gave Rio Tinto rights to mine bauxite on the Mitchell Plateau, and Alcoa the right to refine aluminium there, has been cancelled.
Legislation to that effect will be introduced into State Parliament shortly.
No further mining or exploration will be permitted in the 175,000 hectare area, which will be included in the new five million hectare Kimberley National Park.
The ABC reports that the park will incorporate two million hectares of land in the Kimberley, taking in the current Prince Regent, Mitchell River and Lawley River national parks. Termination of the state agreement with Rio Tinto and Alcoa allows the Mitchell Plateau and Mitchell Falls to form the centrepiece of the new park.
The area has long attracted adventurous grey nomads and other travellers and has had quite a lasting effect on many.
Rio Tinto chief executive Sam Walsh said seeing the area firsthand convinced him it should never be mined.
“To fully understand you need to go there and you need to physically see it,” he told the ABC. “There’s no question in my mind that this is an iconic area that needs to be preserved for future generations.”
The company will contribute $750,000 to rehabilitation work in areas where some drilling was conducted.
WA Premier, Colin Barnett, praised the company’s decision to relinquish mining rights and said he expected the complex work of establishing the park’s boundaries would begin soon.
* Have you visited the Mitchell Plateau? Where else do you think should never be (or should never have been) mined? Comment below?