Fight to End Yeelirrie Uranium Mining Project

The Conservation Council of Western Australia and members of the Tjiwarl Native Title group are taking legal action against environmental approval for the Yeelirrie uranium mining proposal.

This was one of the last decisions the Barnett government made, with Environmental Minister Albert Jacobs approving the mine, despite the Environmental Protection Agency warning unique subterranean fauna may become extinct.

The Conservation Council of Western Australia are also concerned that since uranium is poisonous, it will cause sickness within the community and damage the water supply.

Conservation Council of Western Australia community campaigner Kerri-Anne Garlic said if they win, not only will they be stopping the project from going ahead, but also upholding the environmental law and processes.

“[If we win] it will mean that the governments can’t just come in and override what the Environmental Protection Agency is there to do as their job,” she said.

“And it also means a big win to the Traditional owners who have never been consulted, and they’ve never been asked what is their decision on all of this.”

Canadian mining company Cameco is planning to construct a nine-kilometre open mine pit and uranium processing plant in the Northern Goldfield Tjiwarl Native Title lands.

The Conservation Council of Western Australia said this would mean clearing 2421 hectares of native vegetation and generating 36 million tonnes of potentially radioactive mining waste, which would be stored in the open pits.

Uranium was first discovered at the site in 1972 and in 2012 BHP Billiton sold the site to Cameco for $430 million.

The Tjiwarl Traditional Owners have been against the mining of the Yeelirrie uranium deposit for over 40 years, because the proposal threatens cultural heritage sites which are part of the Seven Sisters Dreaming songline.

Ms Garlic said they are waiting on the Court date to continue with the hearing, however they are confident they can win this fight.

“We will push as hard and as strong as we can,” she said.

“We believe that we’ve kept it in the ground for over 40 years… and this case isn’t about just stopping Yeelirrie uranium mining, it’s actually keeping the government for upholding environmental law.”

The Conservation Council of Western Australia are currently raising money to continue their Supreme Court action, you can find out more here.

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