Helena Aurora Range (HAR) Needs our Help

Submitted: Friday, Sep 30, 2016 at 14:05
ThreadID: 133532 Views:5239 Replies:9 FollowUps:12
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Hi all.

The miner, Mineral Resources Ltd has had its Public Environmental Review documents released for a two month Public Consultation period, which ends end October. MRA wants to mine iron ore on the HAR.

MRL originally proposed to mine HAR in 2014, following which the EPA assessed the project as 'Environmentally Unacceptable'. Supporters of the Range thought they'd had a win....

But no, MRL and the mining lobby appealed, and placed huge pressure on the State's Minister for the Environment to have the EPA decision reviewed.

The Minister caved in and directed the EPA to again review the proposal, at the level of a 'Public environmental Review'.

As above, the PER is now out for public submissions. The Wilderness Society is the major campaigner against the project, but is supported by numerous other organisations such as the Wildflower Society. I understand that a number of 4WD orgs will also be submitting against the proponent.

Everyone who has ever visted Helena and Aurora knows how special this place is. It needs our help.

The following links go to an on-line petition, a two page facts sheet, and a web page outining why HAR is so important.

Please give consideration to at least signing the petition, and better, putting in a personal submission.

Helena and Aurora - A Jewel in the Great Western Woodlands

HAR: On-line Petition

Two page Facts Sheet


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Reply By: equinox - Friday, Sep 30, 2016 at 18:47

Friday, Sep 30, 2016 at 18:47
Hi John,
Thanks for bringing this to our attention.
I have signed the petition.
I think it is very important to preserve areas such as this.
Once areas like this are disturbed and altered there is no going back.
I'm no greenie however biodiverse areas need to be protected - who knows what benefits we might receive in the future.
You don't have to be blind to see that the surrounding areas are already deteriorated - it just does not make sense for this project to proceed.
In the article is says the entire life of the mine will be the equivalent of 3 months mining in the Pilbara.
Others interested EO'ites, please sign the petition or lobby against this using whatever means are available to you.

Looking for adventure.
In whatever comes our way.

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Reply By: rocco2010 - Friday, Sep 30, 2016 at 19:15

Friday, Sep 30, 2016 at 19:15
Hello John

Thanks for giving this publicity

I was there on the weekend on a trip organised by the Conservation Council to bring the situation to wider attention.

About 60 people were there, most of us on our first visit and we taken by the beauty of the banded ironstone ranges. Hopefully there will be a few more submissions coming from that


AnswerID: 604784

Follow Up By: Member - John Baas (WA) - Friday, Sep 30, 2016 at 20:29

Friday, Sep 30, 2016 at 20:29
Thanks Rocco.

Yes its not only the Cons people who've been going out. The Birdlife crew have been doing bird surveys and organising site appreciation visits there for some years now.

Birdlife also has a page on this.

Birdlife HAR Page

FollowupID: 874575

Reply By: Phil B (WA) - Friday, Sep 30, 2016 at 19:43

Friday, Sep 30, 2016 at 19:43
Thanks John for bringing this matter to attention. I was sadly mistaken to think this had been sorted.

The mining company is cherry picking easy to get at deposits with no thought what so ever for biodiversity and natural heritage, HAR is probably the last of the significant ranges in the area and one of the most easily accessed.

We the people own this asset and this is one that should not be mined whatever the mining value (which I am told is low grade ore). If they want to mine ore they should go for the underground stuff out in less critical biodiversity areas in the sand plains.

But there will be jobs lost they say – sure for a year then the range is gone and so are the jobs.

Let’s take a firm stand to protect HAR, sign the petition or put forward your own submission, every bit of pressure helps.
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Follow Up By: Member - John Baas (WA) - Friday, Sep 30, 2016 at 20:40

Friday, Sep 30, 2016 at 20:40
Thanks for the great pics Phil; it sure is a beatiful place.

The range and the Mt Manning Cons Reserve to the north was part of the first trip I ever took once I got ny 200 Series in 2008. I was so impressed I created the trip as a ExplorOz treknote.

Northern Yilgarn Cons Reserves TN

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Follow Up By: Phil B (WA) - Saturday, Oct 01, 2016 at 06:14

Saturday, Oct 01, 2016 at 06:14
Here is a photo of the remains of an animal trapping exercise atop Bungalbin presumably to prove the worth of HAR
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Follow Up By: AlanTH - Sunday, Oct 02, 2016 at 10:43

Sunday, Oct 02, 2016 at 10:43
How nice to see they didn't bother to clear their mess up behind them. How typical that is.
I'm with others and can't see the point for such a relatively small amount of ore, especially in a depressed price market. Although being easy to mine offsets that.
Don't put any faith in the department or Jacobs vetoing it again. The seat polishers are only looking at their job futures and he'll be looking at life after politics.
FollowupID: 874619

Reply By: Member - Paul B (WA) - Saturday, Oct 01, 2016 at 14:33

Saturday, Oct 01, 2016 at 14:33
Name one mining project the Wilderness Society has ever supported. Just one.

If it were left to the Wilderness Society, we'd all be living in caves. We certainly would not be driving 4 wheel drives made from steel and running on diesel that both needed to be extracted from the Earth's natural resources, which we've learned in recent decades are not particularly rare or scarce, although they are expensive to find and exploit.

That said, I don't believe the mining proposal that mines just the northern section of the H&A Ranges (ie NOT Bungalbin Hill at the southern end) ought to be supported, but I can't see that there is any problem with mining the J5 deposit to the west.

Before blindly following the propaganda of radical environmental extremists like the Wilderness Society and the Conservation Council, people ought to actually have a really good look at the material that is on offer from a range of other sources, including the company.

I might also add, that when the environmental movement, the mining industry and the WA State Government sat down together 8 or 10 years ago to work out what were the significant areas that should be excluded from mining, the environmentalists were not in the slightest bit interested in preserving the Helena & Aurora Ranges, but were prepared to defend, to the last man and the last drop of blood, Mt Manning which would seem to have minimal conservation values by comparison. I wonder what changed?

My suspicion: that at the time a mining company was interested in Mt Manning so the focus of environmentalist was solely on stopping mining per se, rather than preserving the environment.

My two penneth worth.
AnswerID: 604800

Follow Up By: Member - John Baas (WA) - Saturday, Oct 01, 2016 at 20:45

Saturday, Oct 01, 2016 at 20:45
Hi Paul.

Good to have an alternative pov on this vexed topic; that is, striking a balance between development and the environment. Great that you hold that the northern HAR shouldn't be mined. However, I don't think the overall project would be viable economically if undertaken on J5 alone; certainly the proponent hasn't offered this as an alternative.

My view, seeing you raise this, is that I could live with a J5, PROVIDED an 'A' Class reserve was created over the HAR itself (just a pers. view tho).

I certainly don't think I'm blindly following radical 'deep green' propaganda. I actually have stumped up the readies for a hard copy of the PER and a deep read of it isn't changing my opinion at all. It is both an informative document with all sorts of useful data laced with a really professional dose of spin.

Anyway, I'll take this opportunity to make it clear I'm not affiliated with either the Society or the Council, although I believe they do good works. I am but a private, concerned citizen, with, surprise surprise, an opinion. Just that it doesn't coincide with yours doesn't really call for such a peevish tone :-).

You're probably right about the Mt Manning vs HAR bit, I wasn't aware of that matters until you have just now kindly pointed it out . But if HAR wasn't under developmental threat, why would groups with limited resources such as those cited expend their scarce funds there...?.

FollowupID: 874595

Reply By: Member - Paul B (WA) - Saturday, Oct 01, 2016 at 18:40

Saturday, Oct 01, 2016 at 18:40
Grossly distorting use of language, John Baas: "The miner, Mineral Resources Ltd HAS HAD [my emphasis] its Public Environmental Review documents released ..."

Has had its PER documents released? It was not coerced or dragged screaming and kicking, it released them itself and has maintained transparency all the way through. It has willingly entered into the environmental approvals process as mining companies in WA have for decades. The shame is that mining companies everywhere don't act with the level of environmental stewardship that they do in WA.

The tenor of your post indicates massive bias against a process that has proceeded according to the legislated, set down and accepted process of establishing mining operations in WA.
AnswerID: 604804

Follow Up By: Member - John Baas (WA) - Saturday, Oct 01, 2016 at 21:08

Saturday, Oct 01, 2016 at 21:08
Hi again Paul.

My understanding of the public review process is that documents (such as MRL's PER) are not released for 'statutory' public comment until the EPA says that they can can go to the public. I believe that this is to help proponents avoid sending out inadequate documentation on an unsuspecting public, but I am happy to be corrected.

It's a fine point as me being massively biased re process... I agree the proponent has a right to due process under legislation.

My expressed concern was that the mining lobby, with its high level access to Government, was able to pressure a Minister to not follow the EPA's advice. I wish punters like me could have 10% of the lobby's priviledged access...

Anyway, I definitely am biased agaist all these small, often spectacular, ranges, with their unique, restricted, and in a number of cases endangered species mixes, being progressively and permanently ruined for both short term jobs and short term profits. There! I've said it. :-(.

All over the Midwest and the Yilgarn; below is what the grandkids are going to see. I'll bet they'll give us a fulsome rounds of applause.

More likely, they'll be saying: 'what on earth were they thinking'.

I've only got pics of Tallering Peak and the Karara ops. I invite other ExOz'ers to post more...


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Follow Up By: Member - Paul B (WA) - Sunday, Oct 02, 2016 at 17:21

Sunday, Oct 02, 2016 at 17:21
Where are your photos of the several million square kilometres NOT disturbed by mining and from where there is absolutely no sign of mining?
FollowupID: 874630

Follow Up By: Member - John Baas (WA) - Sunday, Oct 02, 2016 at 20:36

Sunday, Oct 02, 2016 at 20:36
Hi Paul.

I do have 1000's of pics of beautiful spots not yet mined (but mostly overlain by extant or expired mining exporation leases).

However, you might possibly have overlooked that my post and my responses are about the mining threat to HAR specifically, and more generally, to most of the prominent Banded Iron Formation landforms.

You seem to be intent on hijacking the thread into a very broad polemic about the values of mining vs the environment.

May I respectfully suggest you start a new thread on this broader topic.


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Follow Up By: Member - Paul B (WA) - Sunday, Oct 02, 2016 at 22:22

Sunday, Oct 02, 2016 at 22:22
No, I'm not interested in a "broad polemic" now that I know what that means. Just to inject some balance. I'm happy that I've done that.

My vast experience with both the mining industry and the environmental movement is that the former deals in facts and truths (at least in WA) and the latter does not. In 11 years working for Federal MP's from 1991 to 2002, I saw environmentalists constantly mislead the media and by extension the Australian people, about intentions of industry (mining and other) and politicians. I saw them walk out of meetings I attended and tell the media the precise opposite of what they'd said in the meeting. I saw Green politicians constantly mislead the Parliament in a manner that would have got anyone else chucked out of the Parliament.

And I still see it today in my daily business life in Kalgoorlie. That's why I'm a bit sensitive to green propaganda - most of it is simply untrue.

That said, I do not think the 350 ha proposed for disturbance at the northern end of H&A should be mined. I said it 10 years ago when the carve up was on. The green movement didn't agree with me then but now for some reason they do.

What I do think is grossly unreasonable is for the green movement to give the mining industry every indication they wouldn't oppose mining in this area, only to change their minds after the expense of millions of dollars by this Australian company, ie by its shareholders, who largely are the members of Australian super funds, in other words, you and me.
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Follow Up By: Member - John Baas (WA) - Monday, Oct 03, 2016 at 00:15

Monday, Oct 03, 2016 at 00:15
Thanks Paul.

No worries; I never thought my appeal would appeal to everyone.

I'm going to have to 'depart the field' for now; am off tomorrow for a 4WD trip taking me thru from the Midwest to the Yilgarn.

I hope to finish up around Helena and Aurora so I can see it intact for maybe the last time.

And... seeing you hope that the northern HAR won't be mined, maybe you could sign the Wilderness Society petition anyway...

If not, what about following the Birdlife mob - you could hardly find a less offensive bunch of environmentalists than the birdos; if so go to:

Birdlife HAR Page

Good luck and cheers.

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Reply By: Phil B (WA) - Sunday, Oct 02, 2016 at 11:04

Sunday, Oct 02, 2016 at 11:04
Hi Paul B
The Wilderness Soc isn’t there to support mining; their goal is to protect the environment especially special/significant areas. In opposing projects they will win some and loose some. If we keep mining everything there won’t be many superb areas like HAR left.

Don’t forget our descendants will look back at what we have left them, will they be disgusted, like many of us do with happenings in previous eras. Are you aware that if it had not been for the enforcement of a green belt around Kalgoorlie way back, the woodline companies under Hedges and Co would have cut down every tree in sight and sent them to the steam boilers at the mines?

HAR is special, it needs to be totally protected, its low grade ore anyway. But its jobs some will say, HAR would be mined in a couple of years then even those jobs would be gone. HAR must be umpteen millions years old, let’s not sent it to China leaving another gaping hole in the ground.
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Reply By: Joe Fury - Sunday, Oct 02, 2016 at 13:03

Sunday, Oct 02, 2016 at 13:03
G'day John Baas

This reply is 'take two' ~ I purposely deleted my first reply.

The images show just what the 'Environment and the Helena Aurora Range' will end up looking like if the green light is given to mine.

This is real and totally sanctioned by all levels of government and within EPA approvals.

I'm not sure what words can be added but once it's handed to the miners ~ every one else loses.

Safe travels : JF

AnswerID: 604823

Follow Up By: Member - John Baas (WA) - Sunday, Oct 02, 2016 at 13:26

Sunday, Oct 02, 2016 at 13:26
Hi Joe.

Thanks for the pics. Yes, the Pilbara has changed forever.

At least it has two world class national parks, not that I'm saying that they're ever going to make up for broad scale landscape obliteration.

But I'd kill for a NP over the HAR.


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Reply By: Member - Paul B (WA) - Sunday, Oct 02, 2016 at 17:11

Sunday, Oct 02, 2016 at 17:11
Fair dinkum, anyone would think reading this we'd completely mined the whole state! How about a bit of perspective here - you could fit every mine in WA into Perth's western suburbs.

If you're that concerned about destruction of land, how about you also start getting concerned about urban spawl, which irrevocably damages more country than mining ever does. And once the miners finish it has to be fully regenerated. No other industry is subject to that requirement.

That said, I repeat, I don't think the banded iron formation in the northern section of the H&A Ranges ought to be mined, even though it's a disturbance limited in total to some only about 350ha including roads and infrastructure (ie about a tenth the size of a small suburb), because they are particularly spectacular rock formations.

But reading the tenor of many of the comments above, we'd have no mining anywhere. I don't see any similar intent to reduce use of steel, as in that used to build 4wd vehicles, so I think a few people here ought to be a bit careful about what they wish for!
AnswerID: 604838

Follow Up By: Phil B (WA) - Sunday, Oct 02, 2016 at 20:41

Sunday, Oct 02, 2016 at 20:41
Hi Paul
The topic is HAR not the whole state, and thats what my comments have been about.
Thanks for your support “I don't think the banded iron formation in the northern section of the H&A Ranges ought to be mined “.

Our concern is the cherry picking of as you call them
“particularly spectacular rock formations.”

I’m happy we that have mines, our state is built on them, but this mining company has a keenness for taking out rock formations - maybe they should consider some open cut/underground stuff away from these rock formations, I’m sure they won’t get as much grief.
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Reply By: 9900Eagle - Monday, Oct 03, 2016 at 08:01

Monday, Oct 03, 2016 at 08:01
To those who quote progress, need and rehabilitation.
Why do we need another scar on the land when there is so much iron ore at existing mines in Australia. Surely it would be best to exhaust those quarries first.

As for rehabilitation. I have never seen a quarry rehabbed yet. The infrastructure is removed and the roads are ripped to promote growth, plus the tails dams are normally covered and replanted. All the mullock heaps remain and the pits are still there minus parts of the mountains range.

Obligation to rehabilitate, all good if they don't go bust and the money that is held in trust doesn't come anywhere near fixing the land. Guess who pays, the taxpayer. Rio has just sold a mine here for $1 to a junior miner, estimated rehab cost $100 million, not hard to see what happens down the track and who is going to pay.
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