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Wednesday, 24 August 2011
Page: 5450

Burrup Peninsula

(Question No. 692)


Senator Ludlam asked the Minister representing the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, upon notice, on 15 June 2011:

In regard to an explosive event conducted by Holcim Australia at their quarry on the Burrup Peninsula on the afternoon of 1 April 2011:

(1) Were there any commitments or guidelines for Holcim Australia similar to those used by Rio Tinto Iron Ore and Woodside Energy for the vibration effect of explosions on the surrounding rock art and terraces on the Burrup Peninsula or National Heritage listed area; if not, why not.

(2) Is the Minister aware that explosions such as the one that occurred at the Holcim quarry dislodge boulders on the Burrup; if not, will the Minister avail himself of this information.

(3) If the answer to paragraph (1) above is no and the answer to paragraph (2) above is yes, what will the Minister do about these activities.

(4) Will the Minister impose explosive impact guidelines similar to those used by Rio Tinto Iron Ore and Woodside Energy on Holcim Australia; if not, why not.


Senator Conroy: The Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) The guidelines developed by Rio Tinto Iron Ore and Woodside Energy for the vibration effect of explosions on Dampier Archipelago (including Burrup Peninsular) national heritage listed place were self-imposed and not a requirement of government. The Australian Government is not aware of Holcim Australia having any commitments or guidelines similar to those used by Rio Tinto Iron Ore and Woodside Energy.

However, it is an offence under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 for a person to take an action that has, will have or is likely to have a significant impact on the Indigenous heritage values of a National Heritage Place. If the company’s explosions are having, will have or are likely to have a significant impact on the values of the National Heritage Place they would be required to refer their activities for assessment under the Act.

(2) The department did receive a report of a scree slope that collapsed some two kilometres from the quarry but the department has no evidence of a connection between that slope collapse and explosions at the Holcim quarry. However, departmental officials will be meeting with Holcim Australia in coming weeks to discuss managing quarry activities to ensure the conservation of adjacent national heritage values.

(3) Please refer to the answer to question (2).

(4) My powers are predicated on actions that are likely to have a significant impact on a matter of national environmental significance.