Portman Mining under pressure on Cockatoo Island

August 15, 2003 - Action by Robin Chapple MLC has seen the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Department of Industry (DoIR) launch parallel investigations into Portman Mining's Cockatoo Island mining operations in the Buccaneer Archipelago.

The agencies are investigating suspected breaches of licence conditions relating to marine pollution from the mine, after concerns were raised by the Greens (WA) that coral in the vicinity of the mine was being smothered by runoff.

In answers to questions raised in Parliament last night, the Environment Minister outlined the actions being taken by the DEP and DoIR, and it is understood that construction of the seawall at the minesite has been suspended until the investigation is complete.

'I am pleased to see that the Government has taken our concerns seriously, and hope that the performance of the mine can be improved, given the exceptional qualities of the surrounding environment,' Mr Chapple said.

'It is a shame that it took an emergency to trigger action by the regulatory authorities, and I suggest it points up a need for far greater resources in monitoring and enforcement, both within the DEP and DoIR.'

Mr Chapple said he would await the outcome of the investigation with interest, following the recent publicity surrounding the DEP's supposedly strengthened enforcement and prosecution policy. 'I see this as something of a test case of the Department's willingness to take enforcement beyond rhetoric,' Mr Chapple concluded.

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