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Byron Shire
July 20, 2024

Clarence locals welcome miners commitment to ‘pause’ activities

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Ewingar locals supporting the Clarence Catchment Alliance who oppose mining in the Clarence catchment. Photo supplied

It has been a long seven years for the Clarence Catchment Alliance (CCA) who have been fighting against mining in the Clarence catchment. 

The ‘No Mines Clarence Valley’ campaign has pushed forward with the ‘No Social Licence’ stance, meeting with lease holders, local, state and federal leaders, stakeholders, and councils to ensure resident’s voices are heard.

They have welcomed the announcement by the multinational mining company Sons of Bavaria to halt its mining activities in the Clarence River water catchment area of the Northern Rivers NSW.

The ‘No Mines Clarence Valley’ campaign has gathered data through petitions, letter-writing, and a land use survey to support their stance against mining. They have most recently worked with Southern Cross University through the land use survey to establish there is 70 per cent opposition to mining in the Clarence catchment. 

‘When a Mineral Mining Production Application is lodged, and before a Mining Production Lease is granted or can become Operational, mining companies are required to consult with the community. The lingo is referred to as “Social Licence”,’ explained CCA in a press release.

Geoff Findlay, Ewingar resident and long term member of the Clarence Catchment Alliance who oppose mining in the Clarence catchment. Photo supplied

The survey data was collected through a community survey conducted during the 2023 NSW State Election in partnership with the Clarence Catchment Alliance. Community members were asked to complete a one-page survey to share their perspectives on local land uses and challenges.

More than 1,000 people rescinded to the survey and project lead, Dr Hanabeth Luke, said the preliminary results indicate strong community appreciation of the natural environment of the area.

‘97 per cent of people said healthy rivers and waterways were absolutely critical for them, followed closely by water security and maintaining habitats and biodiversity,’ Dr Luke said.

The survey also addressed perspectives on the operation of local industries including coal seam gas, mineral mining and native forest harvesting. Community members expressed significant opposition to coal seam gas development (80%); housing development on floodplains (78%); mineral mining development (72%); and native forest harvesting on public lands (69%).

Susanne Hopfner supporting the Clarence Catchment Alliance who oppose mining in the Clarence catchment. Photo supplied

‘Pause’ to mining

After numerous conversations and meetings with Hans-Werner Kummerow, CEO of mining company Sons of Bavaria Investments, the CAA last week received the following promising and most admirable news from him:

‘…Sons of Bavaria Investment Australia Pty Ltd (SBI) is fully committed to support all issues that the 2023 Survey Southern Cross University (in collaboration with the CCA) has identified as important to the people who live in the Clarence Catchment. I am convinced that the study has been carried out according to sound academic standards and has led to representative results. Therefore, I shall respect the findings and will pause my activities at Ewingar until a shift in the public perception of my mineral extractive activities occurs… Until that happens, I shall once more assure you that I will not apply for a quarrying or processing license within the Clarence Catchment if there should be any danger to the quality of the water supply…’

Susanne Hopfner, Ewingar resident said ‘Members of the Ewingar community are long term members and supporters of the CCA and have a strong backing from residents of Tabulam, and Drake as well. We have remained firmly opposed to the mining project by Sons of Bavaria despite enduring the 2019 bushfires and a challenging recovery. 

‘Opposition persists, even with assurances from the CEO that the mining methods would cause no environmental damage. The community has only one road, inadequate for heavy traffic, and the prospect of hundreds of trucks using this route, including a school bus run, is strongly opposed by residents.’

Shae Fleming Coordinator of the Clarence Catchment Alliance who oppose mining in the Clarence catchment. Photo supplied

Shae Fleming, CCA Co-ordinator, added, ‘We are happy to see our community campaign having a positive impact and we thank everyone that has contributed. This is an indefinite cease work brought on by staunch local opinion. We don’t see that opinion changing any time soon, so it’s a win for now. There is more follow up to do though.

‘This only 1 out of 40+ exploratory leases held across the Clarence catchment, impacting the Clarence, Nymboida and Mann Rivers, so the battle continues. Mr Kummerow has set a great precedent for other company CEOs to follow,’ she said. 

‘This result shows the power of community, and we hope it proves we can make a difference together. We need help to take on the rest and if anyone would like to volunteer, we have a sign-up sheet on our website and a volunteer meeting next Tuesday 2.7.24 via zoom. To sign up please head to www.clarencecatchmentalliance.com.au.’


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