Avoiding the mining?

Alcoa has confirmed it will not be mining an 83 sq km area around Dwellingup. This comes amidst various recent signs the miner is anxious to placate an increasingly aware and concerned community. Alcoa’s current proposals for a major expansion of bauxite mining between the Dwellingup and Jarrahdale townsites still face an imminent Public Environmental Review (PER) following numerous public submissions in 2022.

Dwellingup is in the process of developing itself as an ecotourism town and trails hub, so preservation of substantial, quality forested area around the town is vital for optimising the “environmental, lifestyle, ecotourism and recreation values” mentioned in the state government’s press release.

Click for larger map.

However, the newly announced ‘mining avoidance area’ covers only 30% of a much larger area that the local Dwellingup community group had initially proposed as the Dwellingup Discovery Forest. (See map.) That larger area of around 277 sq km measured roughly 27km W-E and 8-19km N-S (light green area on map), contrasting with the relatively small area now to be protected, being only about 12km west-east and 5-10km north-south (darker green area).

The area will ‘protect’ about 11km of the Bibbulmun Track from possible bauxite mining. But – just 6km east of the town and outside the avoidance zone – 10km of the track will be impacted by the proposed mine expansions (see Holyoake expansion area on map). A narrow, forested buffer zone along the northern side of the track will be preserved in the hope of visually screening the bordering mining operations and impacts from walker view. And the mining of the Holyoake area, if it proceeds, will impact on ~31 sq km area of  forest which the Dwellingup community had originally hoped would be protected under its Dwellingup Discovery Forest proposal. The short Marrinup Falls Walk Trail, just 6km NW of Dwellingup, also lies outside the avoidance area. Meanwhile, further encroachments of mining into parts of the Lane Poole Reserve will continue south of the avoidance zone.

Recent public submissions to the EPA concerning the draft Forest Management Plan 2024-2033 have highlighted a need to preserve connected networks of quality forest and landscape as a broader aim of such mining avoidance plans. The state and the community should not be left, post-mining, with small islands of remnant forest which cannot provide long-term viable ecosystems for our endangered flora and fauna and will also  reduce ecotourism and recreational values.

Additional references

(Posted 21 June 2023.)

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