During his speech to the House of Assembly last Wednesday night (3rd July 2019) during debate on the Liberal Government’s Mining Bill, Mr Tom Kousantonis did not hold back on his assessment of Rex Minerals.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS (Hansard, page 6657):
I have no love for Rex Minerals. The way they behaved was appalling—absolutely appalling. With the way that they conducted themselves and then pulled out and did not mine and are going through this new process again, I understand the anger, member for Narungga. I understand the anger of the people who were impacted by them, and I think they are not a poster boy for mineral resources “
YPLOG agrees entirely with his assessment. However, it is a pity Mr Koutsantonis did not realise this earlier – before he approved Rex’s massive open cut copper mine near Pine Point in August 2014. As Labor’s Minister for Mining and Energy, he could have stopped Rex’s Hillside proposal in its tracks. He chose not to. Five years on, Hillside remains in limbo due to the company’s continuing inablity to obtain finances or get final Government approval for its Program for Environmental Protection and Rehabilitation which must be signed off by the mining department before Rex can commence any work at Hillside.
It is the local farmers and community residents, not Mr Koursantonis, who have had to wear the consequences of his decision to approve the mine. They have borne the brunt of five years of uncertainty, anxiety and stress of not knowing what the future holds for them. YPLOG has spoken to numerous residents in nearby towns who have been grappling with the question of whether they should sell up now, knowing that if Hillside gets going their health and well being will be significantly impacted by constant dust and noise from the mine. The situation for those farmers whose land now sits within the Hillside mining tenement is even worse. How can they run their business, plan for the future and provide a secure environment for their families when they don’t know when or if Rex will require their land – whether in 5, 10, 20 years’ time or never?
The Hillside example shows just how flawed the Government’s approval process is. The new Mining Bill, passed by the House of Assembly last Wednesday, will do nothing to improve this.