KCGM says jump: Minister Brown launches Inquiry into how high...

April 21, 2004 - State Development Minister Clive Brown has bowed to the demands of KCGM in attempting to short circuit the Environmental Protection Authority's appeal process for the controversial Fimiston 1 tailings dam.

On the basis of a number of appeals, the EPA is reconsidering its decision not to formally assess the tailings dam raise. In the mean time, KCGM has threatened to shut down the Mt Charlotte mine if due process is followed.

"With depressing predictability, State Development Minister has hastily convened an inquiry on demand to fast-track the process. This is to allay KCGM's fears that environmental protection or public safety could momentarily stand in the way of profits," Mr Chapple said.

"This kind of collusion between Government and industry is precisely the kind of behaviour that was blasted in the Cooke Review," Mr Chapple said. "There are genuine concerns that raising the Fim 1 tailings dam may put the public and the environment at risk, and we have this agency called the EPA which is meant to assess such matters. Let them get on with the job."

"I don't know if it is even legal for the Minister for State Development to pre-empt the EPA in this way, but it certainly sends a strong signal to the community that the Government has been captured by KCGM's scare-mongering."

Mr Chapple has been attempting to resolve the disputes between KCGM, the Mines Department and community groups for several years, but admitted that the process had reached new lows. "Tony Cooke's report may have fallen short in some respects but at least we have finally seen some independent criticism of KCGM and its supporters in Government."

"Today's announcement by Minister Brown's office signals the Government's intentions to bury its critics in more inquiries," Mr Chapple said. "But I firmly believe the outcome of this one is a foregone conclusion. No wonder people are getting cynical." he concluded.

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