Toro Energy’s uranium expansion plans condemned by WILUNA MARTU people

WESTERN AUSTRALIA’S WILUNA MARTU CONDEMN EXPANSION OF URANIUM MINING PROJECT ,InterContinental Cry, by  on May 7, 2014 In Western Australia, plans of expanding Toro Energy’s mine site into a much larger uranium mining wasteland–spanning 100km and two lake systems–has been condemned by elders of the Wiluna Martu people.

“The lives of not only our people today are at stake but the future of our people into time immemorial. This uranium mining if it goes ahead will spell the end of us as custodians of the land. It will make toxic the land, preventing us from caring for the land, it will poison the rivers that we swim in, drink and fish from,” said Wiluna Elder, Glen Cooke to The Stringer.

On March 25, Western Australia’s EPA made the Toro Wiluna uranium expansion project open for public review. Wongi anti-nuclear campaigner, Kylie Fitzwater, commented that Toro had a long way to go before gaining new approvals to expand their single-mine approved project. “The company needs to complete additional environmental management, mine closure, tailings management and transport plans for assessment before any mining can commence at the Wiluna site,” she said.

Included in the proposal, Toro Energy wants to double its water consumption and store radioactive mine waste from several mine sites in a Lake bed. The company’s new plan also involves four more deposits covering over one hundred kilometers – Lake Way, Centipede, Millipede and Lake Maitland, with longer term plans including mining an additional three deposits at Nowthanna, Dawson Hinkler and Firestrike – covering another one hundred kilometers in the other direction.

Stop the bull – the Wiluna uranium program

This region is also home to Western Australia’s largest uranium deposit at Yeelirrie, owned by the Canadian uranium mining giant, CAMECO. This project has been consistently opposed for forty years by Traditional Owners, now led by Kado Muir. Mr. Muir has said “The only safe place for uranium is in the ground, where it belongs. For 40 years my people have campaigned to protect Yeelirrie. We have walked this Country for thousands of years, it should not become Country that we fear to tred.”

While Toro’s original mine plan is expected to be operational next year, the traditional lands on which it is situated is covered by two native title claims at an advanced stage towards a consent determination of native title under the Native Title Act………

As the majority of uranium exploration and mining occurs on Indigenous lands all over the world, this project would continue the denial of the Walinu Martu Peoples right of free, prior and informed consent and their self-determination. They have particularly been striving for the right to negotiate with uranium explorers directly to ensure that their culture and rights are adequately protected.

As the first of Western Australia’s mining projects, the government and industry are hoping this will be the first of many. This is why, the Walinu MArtu People will do everything possible to prevent it.

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