Up against mining in Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia

Published: Friday 15 December 2006

-- A Swiss firm Xstrata's plan to establish a massive opencast lead and zinc mine near the Gulf of Carpentaria in Australia, is facing stiff resistance from the region's indigenous communities. The mine is located about 885 km southeast of Northern Territory's capital Darwin, where huge deposits of lead, zinc and silver lie beneath the river McArthur.

For mining, Xstrata plans to divert the river by five km and alter the courses of two connecting creeks. The Northern Territory government has given a go-ahead to it. But the us $63- million river-diversion plan has irked the native Yanyuwa and Gudanji tribes. Mining in the eco-fragile area will kill rare dugongs, sea grass and other marine life; besides, toxic material from the tailings dams might pollute the environment, the groups say. Opposing the project, wwf -Australia has said that tropical rivers are very complex and the project is not like building a cement canal to drain stormwater in a city.

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