Contributing Monkie G Living Staff Monkies
Published on October 3, 2007
Here’s a hot topic from down under. Port Hedland, the largest town in Western Australia, has become known as the center for Australia’s major mining industry growth. China’s high demand for copper, aluminum, iron and gold are influencing the need to grow the industry and build even more mining operations throughout the area.
On the upside, the mining industry provides high paying jobs and millions of dollars to both the mining industry and the government. The downside is the high price paid by the people of Port Hedland.
The hotels and youth hostels that were once filled with tourists and youth are now being occupied by mining employees. Tourists have to stay in tents on the grounds of a local racetrack if they need a place to stay and are too tired to drive to the next town.
But locals fear that wildlife and the Aborigines and pay the highest price. The Aborigines’ culture places a high importance on land and water. And even though the mining companies are in constant negotiations with the Aborigines – who were recognized as having claims to the land by the Australian government in ‘92 – there is concern that the miners are ignoring the sacredness of the land.
According to Senator Robert Hill, the Federal Minister for Environment and Heritage, in a lecture to the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, “Mining makes up 40 per cent of Australia’s merchandise exports each year, contributing around 40 billion annually to the Australian economy.” In a recent survey, 52% of the respondents believed that the mining industry was causing major damage to the environment. Hill disagreed, however, saying it “disturbs less than 0.02 percent of Australia’s land area.”
It was also noted that the “mining industry plants more than 3 million trees each year as part of their mine rehabilitation efforts”. Water is becoming scarce and vegetation is starting to suffer. Yet the industry is still making plans for expansion. Even though the mining industry is trying to create ways to reduce their use of water, this area of Australia is already heavily droughted and the locals fear that going full steam ahead with growth plans will only make it worse.
So, who’s right? Or, perhaps a better question is, who has the right? Regardless of the amount of revenue the mining company brings in, one thing is certain: this is yet another story of epic destroyage in the name of green.
And not the green they should be focusing on.