For over 100 days, the Bob Brown Foundation has maintained a protest camp at the site of a proposed tailings waste facility in Tasmania’s Tarkine rainforest.
Despite recent police presence and removal of infrastructure, the fight to protect the rainforest continues.
As Patagonia has previously reported, the Tarkine – known as takayna to its First Nations people – is the second-largest tract of cool temperate rainforest in the world. Despite having values worthy of World Heritage status, the region is under immense pressure from forestry and mining expansion.
The most pressing of these industrial proposals is an application by Mineral and Metals Group (MMG), a Chinese state-owned company, which owns the mine in the nearby town of Rosebery.
MMG produces zinc, copper and lead at the site and has announced that in order to continue operating, it will need to build a tailings waste facility to house the heavy metal waste from the mine.
To do so will involve clearing 285 hectares of forest, the equivalent of 350 football fields. Within this area are myrtle trees thought to be 500 years old, and endangered species endemic to Tasmania. “MMG will not be allowed to dump 25 million cubic metres of acid-producing, heavy metal tailings into takayna’s forests,” said Scott Jordan, the Bob Brown Foundation’s takayna/Tarkine campaigner. “These forests are irreplaceable.”
Since the 2nd of January, the BBF has maintained a protest camp at the site while calling on MMG to pursue an alternative to the waste facility that will not result in the destruction of the forest and threaten endangered species. This blockade has held for 112 days and has hosted over 600 people. During this time, tree sitters have kept vigil over the camp from up in the canopy, braving the often-temperamental conditions of the rainforest as the year cycles towards the winter months.
This week, Tasmanian police arrived at the blockade and carried out operations, issuing move on notices and arresting protestors as MMG looks to conduct preliminary work for the waste facility.
Steve Scott, the General Manager of the Rosebery mine, said that the while MMG respects the rights of peaceful protest, “when you have spent years receiving permits, approvals and developing detailed protective measures, I think it is reasonable that we should be able to safely access our own mining lease.”
Scott Jordan, however, has called on MMG to abandon its plans immediately, highlighting that the Masked Owl, a species vulnerable to extinction, lives within the threatened forests. “The public have shown that they are resolute in their determination to prevent this atrocity from going ahead,” he said. ‘We will keep turning up to defend these amazing forests and the wildlife that depends on them.”
The BBF has sought an application for an injunction against MMG’s works in the federal court, which is due to be heard on April 29th. Whatever the outcome, the foundation has pledged to stay on in the forest and is calling on people to join them in continuing its blockade.
You can join the blockade in person – or in kind – here.