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North Stradebroke Island, Qld (Credit: Wikimedia)

Sandmining on Stradbroke to stop in 2025

  • BY AAP with AG Staff |
  • March 23, 2011

Sandmining on North Stradbroke Island will finish two years earlier than planned, says the Queensland government.

SANDMINING ON NORTH STRADBROKE Island will end two years earlier than planned, infuriating miners and upsetting local environmentalists as well.

Last year, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh announced that all mining would end in 2027 but on Tuesday she told parliament it would now wind up in 2025. The premier announced a fast-tracked timetable for the closure of the island's largest mine, Enterprise, which accounts for 60 per cent of production. The mine's owner, Sibelco, had agreed to close by 2027 but will now be forced to shut by 2019.

"That means that by 2021, after a two-year decommissioning and rehabilitation period, 75 per cent of the island will be declared national park," the premier told parliament. "All mining will cease on North Stradbroke Island by 2025."

The island's two other mines, Yarraman and Vance, would close in 2015 and 2025 respectively as originally planned.

"To support our vision for a nature-based tourism economy on the island and the protection of what makes this place so special, we will be delivering on our commitment to make 80 per cent of the island national park by 2027," the premier says.

Transitions

The graduated closure of the mines would allow workers to find new jobs and for the government to develop new tourism opportunities. New walking tracks, camping grounds and recreational facilities would be built to help with the transition away from mining.

Queensland Environment Minister Kate Jones says it is about time the island was given back to the community. "This is an area that for too long has been locked up to mining leases and today we are announcing that we are going to hand that back to the people," she says, adding that Labor would be legislating the closure dates for the three mines.

Sibelco, which owns the three mines, says the Bligh government was pandering to green groups and the fast-tracked timetable could spell the death for North Stradbroke Island and send it into "economic depression".

Its spokesman Paul Smith says the mines employ 650 people and generate $130 million a year.

"The shutdown of Yarraman in 2015 and Enterprise by 2019 will lead to a 94 per cent reduction in the company's sandmining operations and this could make Vance unviable," he says. "We could see hundreds of mining jobs disappear from the island, leading to local businesses, schools and infrastructure to be crippled. We'll have to revisit the entire viability of the business."

Green groups critical

The broken promise, he says, poses a threat to the multi-billion-dollar mining industry in Queensland.

The state government was curtailing the renewal of existing mining leases, he adds. "There has never been a non-renewal of a lease in this way in the history of Queensland. This broken promise ... will set a dramatic precedent which will undermine the fundamental basis for the security of mining leases across the state."

Green groups have also criticised the wind-down, but for different reasons. Nikki Parker from anti-sand-mining group Save Straddie Campaign says the end date is not important.

"The miners will do just as much damage in a shorter time," she said in a statement. "This announcement does not stop sandmining. All this will do is accelerate destructive sandmining on Straddie, further threatening the island's ecosystems, fragile water bodies and the island's economic future."


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