Mining and Petroleum

Mining and Petroleum

Oil Spills threaten Our Ark on Barrow Island

31 May 2011

Greens MLC Robin Chapple is aghast at revelations of the extent of persistent oil leaks and other environmental harm across Barrow Island.

“The Minister has admitted that Chevron has reported around 20 oil leaks across the island, from pipes discharging oil.”

“I’ve seen photos of oil-soaked sites, and they appear to be large oil leaks, capable of causing significant environmental damage.”

“Barrow Island’s unique and endangered fauna coming into contact with these spills will be at immediate risk.”

“Of greater concern, is the risk of ground water contamination, or damage to surrounding coral and marine environments. From the evidence I’ve seen it appears that oil has not been recovered before seeping into the surrounding environment”

“In a separate incident, a marine vessel received significant hull damage resulting in an engine oil leak. The vessel was beached on Barrow Island and then towed across to Dampier Port.”

“I’ve asked questions in Parliament about this matter – and it appears the Minister accepts Chevron’s explanation that all 150 litres of leaked oil was recovered. Having reviewed photos of the incident, this seems unlikely.”

“I hold serious concerns that the Department of Environment and Conservation is not capable of properly managing industry on Barrow Island – which is increasingly looking like the final destruction of Australia’s Ark”.

“Chevron reports that 1,027 animals have died on site. This is an appalling lack of regard for the standards required of Chevron, in order to obtain approvals for work on Barrow Island. The EPA’s concern that protocols would not adequately protect our species is clearly now shown to be correct”

“This total lack of environmental accountability shows the Barnett/Gryll Government’s failure to regulate industry safely in remote fragile environments”

“I will not let these issues go – it is critical that Chevron remediate the contaminated sites, and implement effective conservation practices on Barrow Island.”

Photos of the oil leaks on Barrow Island, and of the vessel leaking oil are available at

Note: In July 2003 the Environmental Protection Authority opposed the use of Barrow Island as a gas hub. In September 2003 the Western Australian Government provided in-principle agreement to the joint venturers for restricted access to Barrow Island nature reserve for gas processing facilities, as a foundation for the development of the Gorgon gas fields. That decision required special conditions including:

• formal environmental impact assessment demonstrating that environmental factors can be managed without unacceptable impact on conservation values; and

• development of standards for acceptable management of risk to conservation values and a clear demonstration that they can be met with a very high level of confidence.

(Available at EPA Bulletin 1101 July 2003 & Bulletin 1221 June 2006)

For more information please contact Robin Chapple on 0409 379 263 or 9486 8255

Conservation funding rorted for mining and petroleum exploration

Greens MLC Robin Chapple is outraged that Kimberley Science and Conservation funds, allocated in the State budget, will be used by the Department of Mines and Petroleum to map Kimberley geology for development.

“The Kimberley Science and Conservation Strategy aims to preserve the unique environmental and cultural values of the Kimberley.  However, the Budget papers show that $3 million of the total $41 million is to be spent on ‘geophysical and geochemical’ mapping of the Kimberley,” Mr Chapple said.

“Far from a conservation priority, this geological mapping is to be carried out by the Department of Mines and Petroleum, with a view to facilitating resource exploitation in the Kimberley”

“This allocation of conservation funds for mining priorities is nothing more than a rort.”

“KSCS funds are desperately needed for priorities of biodiversity conservation, and programs to protect and promote Aboriginal environmental knowledge and cultural practices. Again these conservation priorities will be ignored with the funds instead spent on mining mapping.”

Mr Chapple called on the State Government to reinstate the $3 million allocation to projects which genuinely promote the conservation of Kimberley environmental and cultural values.

For more information please contact Robin Chapple on 0409 379 263

Barrick and Newmont should use or lose tenements: Greens

Greens MLC Robin Chapple has called upon both Barrick and Newmont to be more transparent and fair with their workers and the wider community.

“I understand that a large number of the workers are calling for an even time roster,” Mr. Chapple said.

“I support the workers’ call for an even time roster with at the very least the same level of remuneration. Both of these companies should be doing everything possible to retain good workers and provide them with a quality of life with an even time roster, good remuneration as an incentive to stay in Kalgoorlie Boulder.”

Barrick and Newmont have known gold resources north of the current Super pit and with previous owners of subsidiary companies in the early nineties had intentions/plans to mine the Phar Lap, Milanese, and Lucknow open cuts in the vicinity of the Microwave tower and Mt Charlotte.  These proposed open cuts, along with the Mt Gledden, Hidden Treasure, Sunrise, Fairplay, Sons of Gwalia, Westralia Lode, Charlotte Fault, Golden Dream, gold resources have the potential to provide another 10-20 years mine life beyond 2021 to the super pit mining operations.

“This will provide enormous confidence to the Kalgoorlie Boulder community and region generally. Another advantage is these appear to be oxide resources, rather than deep resources greater than 400 metres deep at the southern end of the super pit and obviously cheaper to mine.”

“As far back as 1989 the government produced a conceptual plan for the Golden Mile Super Pit operations which refers to some of these ore bodies, stating that “Additional small pits will be located between the Microwave tower and the Mt Charlotte operation”.
“At the time in question these open cuts referred to were drilled only to relatively short depths, as many other open cuts were at the time. It would appear that the mineralisation in the area clearly extends to greater depths.”

“Barrick and Newmont in my view have the capacity through the development of these substantial known gold resources to provide for an extra crew for the workers to help support an even time roster and still maintain high levels of gold production and profitability.”

“This might even bring about an upgrade of the capacity of the Fimiston mill which will result in further substantial capital expenditure and flow on effects for employment in the region. I call upon Barrick and Newmont to  heavily accelerate and increase the level of exploration dollars in this area to increase on what is already known from 20 years prior as very good if not excellent gold resources in the area.”

“Unfortunately KCGM, the manager for Barrick and Newmont has a poor track record when it comes to being transparent with the community.  It is now time for both Barrick and Newmont to lift the bar in this regard.”

“If Barrick and Newmont via KCGM claim that the above resources are uneconomic, I have some simple advice for them: drop the ground with the tenements and allow another company to peg/mine and develop them to the benefit of the wider community.”

For more information please contact Robin Chapple on 0409 379 263 or 9486 8255

Cloudbreak Mine fatality: Statement from Robin Chapple MLC

It is with great sadness that I have learned of the death of a contractor at the Fortescue Metals Group Cloudbreak mine site earlier today.

My deepest sympathies firstly go to the family and workmates of the deceased.  This is another devastating fatality in the mining industry and comes at a time normally associated with family, holidays and love.

FMG’s decision to suspend the entirety of its onsite operations as a mark of respect is appropriate and I am sure appreciated.

I hope that the investigation into the circumstances surrounding this unfortunate death will be diligent and bring some closure to the man’s friends, family and workmates.

For more information please contact Robin Chapple on 0409 379 263 or 9486 8255

Murujuga for World Heritage Listing


26th March 2010 - BHP Billiton Uranium has committed not to export uranium ore through Western Australian ports, Greens (WA) MLC Robin Chapple said today.

 Mr. Chapple said that he had sought and received a commitment from the General Manager of the Yeelirrie Uranium Project that any future yellowcake export from that mine would occur interstate, via Kalgoorlie.

 “I commend BHP Billiton Uranium for not buying in to Mr. Langoulant’s efforts to tout yellowcake as an Oakajee export,” Mr. Chapple said.

 “BHP have identified that exporting yellowcake via Kalgoorlie is the only viable option for their Yeelirrie project.”

 Mr. Chapple said that the Premier had been caught out breaking an election promise over the export issue.

 “In the face of this commitment from what would be the largest uranium operator in the State, Mr. Barnett now needs to explain why he has backflipped on his election promise not to allow uranium exports via WA ports.”

 “I fully expect that BHP will not succumb to the politicking around this issue, and will not abandon its commitment to please the recalcitrant Mr. Barnett.”

 Mr. Chapple said that while BHP’s commitment was a win for the safety of Western Australian port workers and residents, it was ultimately moving the risks associated with uranium mining onto the people of Kalgoorlie and he remained opposed to uranium mining.

 “Inadequate radiation health measures, lack of indigenous consultation, and the unsustainability of the nuclear industry mean that the Greens remain implacably opposed to any uranium projects in this State.”

  •  Media Contact: Robin Chapple on 0409 379 263 or 9486 8255


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