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POLLUTING WATERWAYS, DESTROYING SACRED SITES AND BREAKING PROMISES: STAND WITH TRADITIONAL OWNERS TO FIGHT FOR THE MCARTHUR RIVER

27.09.2021

"We're fighting to get the government and the mining company to understand that it's Aboriginal land and very important. There's a songline that ties us to the area. We are not going to go away."

Jack Green, Garrwa leader, artist and activist

Glencore’s McArthur River Mine—one of the world’s largest zinc, lead, and silver mines—is a festering sore on the Territory’s landscape, polluting waterways and destroying sacred sites on the lands of the Gurdanji, Mara, Yanyuwa and Garrwa peoples.

Traditional Owners have been fighting for decades to stop the damage caused by McArthur River Mine, but they’ve been betrayed at every turn.  From diverting the McArthur River to make way for an open cut mine, to the spontaneous combustion of the waste rock dump, to cattle on the mining lease being poisoned with lead, to toxic acid leaching into waterways, the mine always seems to get its way, and governments turn a blind eye to the damage.

And then the government made another promise. After the open cut mine was approved 15 years ago, the Territory Labor Government promised that there would be strong independent oversight of the mine and its environmental management.  The regular reports of the Independent Monitor quickly became the only way that Traditional Owners could find out about the growing problems at the mine, and demand action.

But the Gunner Government has betrayed the Traditional Owners once again.

Freedom of Information documents obtained by the Environment Centre NT have revealed that the Gunner Government has slashed the funding and reduced the scope for the Independent Monitor of the mine to a “tick and flick” exercise. Not only that, Glencore was on the new Independent Monitor’s selection panel, and the Monitor’s reports can be changed on the direction of the Government. Now the ‘independent’ reports aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. It’s a fundamental breach of trust.

This broken promise comes hot on the heels of Mines Minister Nicole Manison’s senseless decision to slash the security bond for McArthur River Mine by $120million, despite independent advice that it should be much higher. We're standing with Garrwa leader, artist and activist Jack Green and Traditional Owner Josie Davey to take the Gunner Government to the Supreme Court over its decision to slash the security bond.

Now Jack and Josie are asking you to stand with them too. You are invited to attend an important event to be held by Sydney Environment Institute next month, where you will hear about the toxic history and ongoing slow violence of McArthur River Mine and what you can do to take action.

Tune in to this online panel on Wednesday 6th October to hear from Jack and Josie, Dr Sean Kerins, ECNT Co-Director Kirsty Howey and Professor Tess Lea about the damaging effects of the McArthur River Mine. Jack and Josie want to see hundreds of people attending this landmark online event to show their support for Traditional Owners in Borroloola, and to learn more about this history.

We hope to see you at the forum.

Event Details:

‘Protecting Country, or Extraction?’
Wednesday 6 October 2021
5.00 - 6.00pm (AEST)
Online (Zoom)
https://sei.sydney.edu.au/events/protecting-country-or-extraction/