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Science, Technology and the Environment-Senate Standing Committee - Report - The Preservation of Abbott's Booby on Christmas Island, together with Transcript of Evidence (1 vol.)

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The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia


The Preservation of the Abbott's Booby on Christmas Island

Presented and

ordered to be printed 2 November 1983

Parliamentary Paper No. 218/1983

The Preservation of the Abbott's Booby on Christmas Island

Senate Standing Committee on Science, Technology and the Environment


Preservation of the Abbott's Booby on Christmas Island

Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra 1983

© Commonwealth of Australia 1983

ISBN 0 644 02727 4

Catalogu ing data: Aust ralia. Parliament. Senate Standing Committee on Science, Technology a nd the Environment

Preservation of the Abbott's Booby on Christmas Island

I . Pelecaniformes (Boobies) - Christmas Island 2. Title

3. Animal conservation 4. Christmas Island (Indian Ocea n) - a tural History

598.43948 A us

Cover illustration is a reproduction of a painting of a pair of Abbott's Boobies engag­ ing in a characteristic display of wing waving and forward bowing upon the return of the male to its nes t, which is occupied by the female and a half-grown chick. Th e painting was done by Norman Arlott for th e Christmas Island Postal Services' 1982 series of definitive native birds, and is reproduced by kind permission of the Adminis­

trator and th e Christmas Island Stamp Advisory Committee.

Printed by C. J. Thompson. Commonwealth Governme nt Printer, Canbe rra

The Senate Standing Committee on Science, Technology and the Environment

Senator G. N. Jones (Qld.) Chairman Senator D. S. Jessop (S.A.) Deputy Chairman Senator D. J. Foreman (S.A.) Senator C. V. J. Mason (N.S.W.) Senator M. Reynolds (Qld.) Senator M. Townley (Tas.)

The Senate Standing Committee on Science and the Environment (to 4 February 1983)

Senator D. S. Jessop (S.A.) Chairman Senator J.A. Mulvihill (N.S.W.) Deputy Chairman Senator G.N. Jones (Qld.) Senator D.J. MacGibbon (Qld.) Senator C.V.J. Mason (N.S.W.)

Senator M. Townley (Tas.)

Secretary: R.J. King Parliament House Canberra


Terms of reference

A. Resolution of the Senate Enabling Committee to Inquire Into Annual Reports, 26 November 1980: (I) That, unless otherwise ordered, all annual reports of Government departments and authorities, including statutory corporations, laid on the Table of the Senate, shall stand referred, without any question being put, for consideration and if necessary, for

report thereon, to the Legislative and General Purpose Standing Committees. (2) The President shall transmit a copy of each report so tabled to the Committee which he deems appropriate. (3) The Legislative and General Purpose Standing Committes may, at their discretion,

pursue or not pursue inquiries into reports so received; but any action necessary, arising fro m a Report of the Committee, shall be taken in the Senate on Motion after Notice. B. Pursuant to a resolution of the Senate Standing Committee on Science and the Environment, of 19 May 1982, it was decided to monitor, as a matter arising out of con­ sideration of the Annual Report for 1980- 81 of the Australian National Parks and

Wildlife Service, the implementation of the recommendations of the report of 23 January 1981, Appraisal and Implications of a Survey ( 1979- 80) of Abbott's Booby on Christmas Island. C. The Committee's inquiry was interrupted by the dissolution of the 32nd Parliament

on 4 February 1983. Following the convening of the 33rd Parliament, and the passing, on 22 April 1983, of a resolution on annual reports in the same terms as (A) above, the Chairman of the Committee announced to the Senate on 19 May 1983 that the Com­ mittee had resolved to resume the inquiry.




Preferred Habitat of the Booby Abbott's Booby-An Endangered Species



C HAPTER III - PHOSPHATE MINING AND ITS ECONOMIC VIABILITY Introduction Phosphate Mining Phosphate Reserves and Mine Life Shipping

Manufacturers Mining Economics


CHAPTER V - ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION AND CHRISTMAS ISLAND The Christmas Island National Park and Other Conservation Measures Other Possibly Endangered Species









17 17 18 19 20 21


27 27 29

Conclusions 31

Recommendations 32

ANNEX A- Taxonomy 35

ANNEX B- Distribution of Abbott's Booby sites in 1976 and 1979 36

ANNEX C- Mining Blocks, National Park and the distribution of Abbott's Booby sites recorded in 1979-80 survey 37

ANNEX D- Areas of particular conservation and scientific interest, identified by ANPWS 38

ANNEX E- List of bird species found at Christmas Island 39

ANNEX F- Written submissions 44

ANNEX G - Witnesses 45


ANNEX H - Organisations and their representatives who assisted the Committee during its field visit to Christmas Island, 9-12 July 1983

ANNEX 1- Bibliography







The Effects of Phosphate Mining on Abbott's Booby and its Habitat

Abbott's Booby

1. 1 It was C.W. Andrews of the British Museum who collected the first specimen of the Abbott's Booby on Christmas Island in 1897. He identified it as belonging to the species of booby bird (or Sulid) newly discovered during an expedition to Assumption Island in September 1892 by the American naturalist, W.L. Abbott. 1 This species now

bears the common name of Abbott's Booby and the scientific name of Sula abbotti. (For Taxonomy- see Annex A). 1.2 The Abbott's Booby is a large sea-bird, around 79cm in length, weighing from 1.4 to 1.6 kg, usually having a snow-white body, with black wings and back. In the adult, these long, narrow wings bleach to a deep burnt brown. Sula abbotti is similar to the other fiv e species of boobies in having a large bill and massive head. Its bill and head are exceptionall y large in comparison with those of other booby species, and its hooked bill

has serrations resembling coarse teeth.2 Large, dark, lustrous eyes give it the excellent vision necessary to sp y out its prey. 1.3 Although the red-footed booby has a tendency to take flying fish on the wing, sulids mostly feed by deep plunge diving into the sea in search of surface-feeding fish or squid . It is believed t hat Abbott's Booby forages widely in the Indian Ocean, but par­

ticularly prefers to feed in an area of upwelling in ocean currents near Sumatra and Java. Normally the bird will remain at sea for long periods except when caring for its young. It then seeks to return almost daily to its nest on the Island. Longer absences usually indicate unsuccessful foraging or unfavourable climatic conditions such as gales or monsoons.

1.4 The Abbott's Booby is now a relict species, as its only known breeding station is on Christmas Island. 3 Origina lly there were other colonies on Madagascar, Glorioso, Rodriguez Island, and in the Chagos Archipelago, but because of the encroachment of man, particularly the destruction of the natural forest habitat, these colonies are now

extinct. 4 I. 5 The Abbott's Booby is one of six species of booby, and is one of only two species which nest in trees. It is certainly the most rare of the boobies and has patterns of be­ haviour and breeding which have determined its population equilibrium, and which do

not allow for extraordinary growth in numbers should a natural disaster befall the adult population. 1.6 Sula abbotti, judging from its physical features and feeding habits, is a long­ distance flier, ranging many hundreds of miles from its only home, Christmas Island. One of the species of fauna endemic to the Island, it always returns to the same forested area, preferably to the same nesting site, to breed. It requires a long breeding time to

produce surviving offspring. Whereas some other boobies produce four chicks, the Abbott's Booby produces at best one chick every two years. It therefore has a low re­ production rate. Its p opulation is hard to replenish if decimated by a catastrophe. There appears to be no pressure on the species arising from lack of food, as the seas within

range have plentiful supplies of fish and squid. Current research indicates that, in order to maintain its numbers, the bird is long-lived: on average, one pair requires 26 years to

replace itself by produci ng two breeding offspring.5 Egglaying occurs between April and August and the breeding and caring for young occupies about 15 months ( 450 days) Therefore it is possible fo r the bird to have only one breeding cycle in two successive years. It produces a larger and heavier egg than any other species in the Sulid genus. The chicks grow remarkably slowly and take 20 weeks or more (!50 days) to reach a

fledgling stage. The young are then dependent on their parents for food for at least another 30- 40 weeks (212 days) .6 After achieving independence a further four to five years is required to reach maturity. Thus from hatching to maturity requires five and a half to six and a half years. Estimated mortality rates are hi gh, leading to the estimate of 26 years for the average period required for a pai r to reproduce itself. The species is unique in its breeding regime, and is the only Sulid that breeds no more than once every two years. All species of the Sulid genus are conservative in behaviour, but the Abbotts

Booby is the most conservative in its breeding regime, choice of habitat, a nd behaviour generally.

Christmas Island

I. 7 The Australian Territory of Christmas Island is a tropical island in the north­ eastern Indian Ocean, some 360 kilometres south of the Sunda Stra it, and approxi mat­ ely 1400 kilometres north-west of North-West Cape on the Australian mainland. It has a land surface of some 135 square kilometres, with the highest peak on the Island ri sing

to just over 360 metres. 7

1.8 The Island was formed by the emergence of a submarine volcanic mountain, which rises some 5000 metres above the sea floor. During uplifting, coral reefs ringed the emerging peaks. Each successive uplift produced a terrace-like foreshore from the older fringing reef, and allowed the creation of a new fringing reef. The coastline there­ fore consists of steep cliffs, which represent the latest uplifting movement. Where wave action and movement have produced subsidence in the cliff face, a shelf has been created, allowing the formation of small beaches. Flying Fish Cove (where the main settlement is located), is an example of such a feature.

1.9 Above the terraces is a plateau area which supports dense rainforest. This plateau is broken by a small number of pea ks . The plateau area has sufficient soil depth and protection from prevailing winds to support tall jungle, in comparison with other exposed areas which have only poor vegetation. Much of the soil and underlying material contains a high proportion of phosphate (P20 5 ) . This surface soil is referred to as 'C' or 'D' grade phosphate material, and overlies varying mixtures of phosphate rock and impurities which are described as either 'B' grade or 'A' grade material. The bottom

layer of phosphate material is found among coralline limestone pinnacles.

1.10 The Island was first sighted on 3 February 1615 by the English merchantman Thomas, but it was not until Christmas Day 1643 that its present name was given to it by Captain William Mynors of the English East India Company. With the discovery of phosphate rock on the Island in 1887 during the visits of both the survey vessel Flying

Fish and HMS Egeria, plans were undertaken by the British Government to annex the Island. This took place on 6 June 1888, during the visit of HMS Imperieuse. George and Andrew Clunies Ross commenced settlement on the Island in the same year, and the first shipment of 20 tonnes of phosphate rock was exported by them to England in

1895 . In 1900, Christmas Island was incorporated into the Straits Settlements, and later came under the jurisdiction of the Governor of the Colony of Singapore. Australia and New Zealand purchased the lease and assets of the Island in 1948, and on I October 1958 sovereignty was passed to the Australian Government by the Christmas Island Act 1958.


1.11 Phosphate mining has been the only commercial industry on the Island since its first settlement. The mining and export of rock phosphate increased greatly in the late 1960's, reaching an historical peak of over 1.6 million tonnes in 1973- 74. Over the last decade, an average of 740 000 and 489 000 tonnes annually have been shipped to

Australia and New Zealand respectively, together with an average of 145 000 tonnes annually to South East Asia. 1.12 The population of the Island is currently about 3000 people, being comprised mainl y of three ethnic groups: Chinese, Malay and European. Since April 1983 , the

Federal Department of Territories and Local Government has had the responsibility for overseeing the mining operation on the Island, which is carried on by the Phosphate Mining Company of Christmas Island (PMCI), which is wholly owned by the Aus­ tralian Government. All the land on the Island, with the exception of the National

Park , is unalienated Crown land.

Preferred Habitat of the Booby

1.13 The Abbott's Booby has the characteristic of nesting in the tops of trees which emerge from the rainforest canopy. Its size and shape of wing apparently mean that onl y certain types of trees are safe for access and nest sites. It nests in trees above the ISO metre contour, mainly on the western-facing slopes and ridges of the Island's cen­

tral plateau. Nest sites are not spread uniformly throughout the Island, as the bird seems to require a communal habitat. Past mining activities have separated these areas, resulting in a clumping of nest sites and an increase in the density of the sites bordering mining fields . (See 1967 map of booby sites and 1979 map of booby sites- Annex B) .

The bird particularly requires emergent trees facing a north-westerly direction. These emergent trees preferably should be above I 0 metres high , as the large body weight of the Booby can cause it to drop as much as 10 metres after take-o ff. Nest sites are pre­ ferred in large jungle areas; nests in trees isolated in cleared areas are tolerated but

gradually discarded as preferred sites. Studies by D .A. Powell and J . Tranter also indi­ cate that 70% of the sites are located in Planchonella nitida and Eugenia gigantea trees, which are both emergent rainforest species. 8 1.14 Nests are large in order to support the large fledgl ing, and securely built to resist

buffeting from strong winds. Once a nesting site is established, it is thought that the bird returns to that particular site for each breeding occasion. When a nest is destroyed, the birds remain loy al to the locality, as can be demonstrated from behaviour following the mining of Blocks 19 and 20, when the returning birds nested in clumps at the edges of

the mined area.9

Abbott's Booby-An Endangered Species

1.15 The earliest recognised scientific survey of Abbott's Booby was undertaken by C.A. Gibson-Hill in 1947, 10 during which he estimated the population to be in the order of 500-700 pairs. Twenty years later, in 1966, A.J. Pearson suggested that there might be fewer than I 00 pairs of birds left on the Island. 11

1.16 In the following year, 1967, Dr J.B . Nelson, an ornithologist specialising in the study of all species of gannets and boobies, undertook a much more detailed survey of the abbotti population, from which he estimated the population to be between 5000 and 5500 free flying individuals.12 Concern for the Booby was expressed by the House of

Representatives Standing Committee on Environment and Conservation in its 1974 re­ port, Conservation of Endangered Species on Christmas Island13• During July and August 1974, Dr Nelson revisited the Island and was able to provide the House of Rep­ resentatives Committee with an updated opinion of the bird's behaviour and chances


for survival. The House of Representatives Committee in its conclusions noted that jungle clearing in 1970 j71 had destroyed much of the most favoured Abbott's Booby habitat and, while the population was still viable, it was delicately balanced between survival and extinction. To ensure no further encroachment or pressure on the species,

the Committee sought a restraint on the phosphate mining operations. 1.17 A survey of the bird was undertaken by the PMCI Conservation Officer, Mr D.A. Powell, MBE, assisted by Mr J. Tranter in 1979 j 80. This survey is recognised as the most comprehensive basis for conclusions regarding the survival of the bird. It was this survey which formed the basis for an appraisal carried out in December 1980 and January 1981 by an expert panel consisting of Professor J.D. Ovington, Professor J .M. C ullen and Dr J.B. Nelson. This appraisal considered the main features of the threat posed to the bird's existence by phosphate mining, and made a number of recommen­ dations designed to ensure its survival. (See below, para. 2.2) .

1. 18 The species has generated so much interest not only because of its being a relict species, but also because of the conservative nature of its behaviour and reproduction. The reasons why its situation could be so preca rious may be summarised as follows:

• although once more widely distributed throughout the tropical islands of the Indian Ocean, the only existing breeding habitat consists of specialised areas on a small trop­ ical island- Christmas Island; • the population is normally in equilibrium with its environment, and cannot recover

quickly from natural or humanly-caused disasters; • there is a high correlation between preferred habitat and areas rich in 'A' grade phos­ phate rock; • much of the preferred habitat and many birds have already been destroyed by mining

operations. (Estimated during House of Representatives Committee inquiry to be 25 % of habitat and 15% of bird population between 1967 and 1974) 15 ; and • the conservative nature of its breeding regime and habitat choice limits the species' adaptability to change.

1.19 Especially since 1974, the delicately balanced position of the species has gained the attention of both the Australian Government and international conservation bodies. This attention and concern has been registered both in the form of protective legislation and in listing as an endangered species. Current protective measures are: 16

• Wildlife Protection (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1982. • Migratory Birds Ordinance 1980. • Official List of Australian Endangered Vertebrate Fauna. • Listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and

Natural Resources (Aves Red Data Book, green page) .

1.20 Australia has an obligation to conserve the Abbott's Booby, arising from the Australia/Japan Agreement for the Protection of Migratory Birds and Birds in Danger of Extinction and Their Environment ( 1974) . The Abbott's Booby is listed in the Annexe to the Agreement, and therefore Articles V and VI apply to it. Article V states:

Both sides shall endeavour to establish sanctuaries for the management a nd protection of migratory birds and birds in danger of extinction;

Article VI states:


Both sides shall endeavour to ( 1) preserve a nd enhance the environment of the birds mentioned in the Annexe of this agreement; and (2) seek means to prevent damage to such birds and their environment.

1.21 Other action has also been taken to implement a positive conservation program for the Booby- in particular, the appointment in 1974 of Mr D .A . Powell as PMCI Conservation Officer, and the appointment of Mr D. Merton as Government Conservator in 1977. 1980 saw the establishment of a National Park on the Island.

More importantly the Company and the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service (ANPWS) have achieved agreements based on the recommendations of the Expert Panel's Appraisal of the 1979- 80 Powell and Tranter survey, following from the Government's acceptance of Management Option 6 of that Appraisal. Another

outcome of the adoption of Option 6 has been the commencement, in July 1983, of a six-year research program designed to monitor the breeding success of the bird. 1.22 All parties concerned with Christmas Island have recognised the peculiar predicament of the Abbott's Booby, particularly its uniqueness and the press ure on it

from mining operations. In the past the wellbeing of the species has been in conflict with the unrestricted conduct of the mining operation. Yet even with the

implementation of the agreements mentioned above, or even if all mining ceased, the species would remain endangered from the threat of natural disasters, such as an epidemic, a forest fire, or a seasonal failure of the food supply.


I. H.S. Gray, ChrisTmas Island- NaTurally, Tappa n, Singapore, p. 72. 2. J.B. Nelson, The Su/idae Canners and Boobies, Oxford, University of Aberdeen and Oxford Unviersit y

Press, pp. 75 1- 53. 3. Evidence, p. 9. 4. Evidence, p. 550. 5. Evidence, pp. S 112 / I 13. 6. J .B. Nelson, Submission, p. 2.

7. Department of Home Affairs and Environment. Ch risTmas Island Annual ReporT 1980 8 1, p. 2 1. 8. Evidence, pp. 111 - 1 12 . 9. House o f Representatives Committee, E vidence, p. 312 . I 0. ' Notes on the Birds of C hristmas Island', Buller in ojrhe Raffles Museum, 18:87 - 16 5. II. 'The Birds of Christmas Island (Indian Ocean)· Buller in ofrhe BriTish Ornirh ologisrs' Club 86:66- 7 1. 12 . op. cir., p. 431.

13. ParliamenTary Paper 325 / 1974. 14 . ibid, p. II, paragraph 75. 15 . Ho use of Representatives Committee, Evidence, pp. 57, 328. 16. Evidence, pp. 532- 33 .



Implementation of the Recommendations of the Expert Panel's Appraisal of the 1979/80 Powell/Tranter Survey of Abbott's Booby 2.1 Until the Abbott's Booby monitoring program presents its findings, the most

complete and recent scientific survey of the distribution of the bird is that carried out by D.A. Powell and J. Tranter in 1979- 80. 2.2 In its January 1981 appraisal of the survey, the expert panel composed of Emeritus Professor J.D. Ovington, Professor J .M. Cullen, and Dr J.B. Nelson, made ten recommendations, based on the assumption that mining would continue for only another four to six years (until 1985- 87) . These recommendations were:

I. Clearing for phosphate mining should be permitted in the mining fields of all Blocks without Abbott's Booby sites. 2. Clearing for phosphate mining as proposed should be permitted in the fields of Blocks 18D, 19, 19B, 21, 24, 26, 27 , II, 15, 18, 19A, 20, 22C, 23 and 23A. Every

care should be taken not to disturb sites outside the areas already cleared and in the new production blocks by redefining the new areas to be cleared and by the control of all field operations associated with mining. 3. Particular attention should be paid to the location of roads and stockpiles to lo­

cate them away from Abbott's Booby sites. 4. Block 22A is of considerable biological significance and should not be mined. 5. There is no proposal to mine Block PI and no clearing should take place in this Block. 6. Some mining could occur in Blocks 22 and 25 provided that the relevant mining

plans are reorganised in consultation with the Conservators so as to provide per­ manent protection to most, if not all, of the sites in areas currently proposed for clearing. .

7. If possible, any clearing for mining in Blocks 22 and 25 should be timetabled to take place near the end of mining operations on the Island and revised in the light of the status of Abbott's Booby after further monitoring. 8. The recommendations made by Powell and Tranter in their report, with regard

to clearing procedures, excess clearing, revegetation and fragmentation of habi­ tat, should be implemented. 9. Adequate funds and resources should be provided to support studies of the breeding success of Abbott's Booby, analysis of the habitat of Abbott's Booby

and the impact of mining on the population. The survey of the distribution of Abbott's Booby sites, and the counts of birds flying into the Island, should be re­ peated at least twice in the next six years as an integral part of an overall re­ search program. I 0. The Commission of Inquiry (Sweetland, 1980) recommended that the reaffores­

tation program should be expanded and that bird populations should be moni­ tored as accurately as possible so that any signs of significant decline can be detected and appropriate actions taken. This recommendation is supported.

2.3 The recommendations can be summarised as follows:


(a) Mining within Blocks without Nest Sites: Mining should be permitted in fields of all blocks without Abbott's Booby sites.

(b) Mining within Blocks with Nest Sites: Phosphate mining and the subsequent clearing of rainforest should be allowed within the following Blocks, even though a certain number of nest sites (about 50) would be lost: 180, 19, 19B, 21, 24, 26, 27, II, 15 , 18, 19A, 20, 22C, 23 and 23A. (For the location of these

Blocks, see Annex C) . These Blocks contain more than 25% of estimated Island reserves of 'A' grade phosphate.

To mine these Blocks, a defined procedure on rainforest cleari ng should be adopted and observed by the Company. Care should be taken in locating roads and dump sites in order to minimise the disruption andjor destruction of the bird's habitat. There should be no mining in Blocks 22A and PI - with only partial mining allowed in

Blocks 22 and 25. If possible, mining in these latter two Bl ocks should take place at the end of the mine's life and then only after reconsideration of the effect on the bird's population at that time.

(c) Broad Conservation Matters: Reafforestation of the mined land should be ex­ tended, and as well, funding should be provided to establish a comparative study program designed to monitor the distribution and population of the bird over a six year period.

Implementation of the Recommendations Arising From the Appraisal by the Expert Panel

2.4 The Expert Panel listed seven Management Options for the continuation of phosphate mining on the Island. Of the seven, the Expert Panel concluded that Option 6 best met the ten recommendations, provided also that their proposals to improve the field clearing and excavation procedures, and to carry out further monitoring, were

implemented. 1 Some losses both of existing Abbott's Booby sites and phosphate ore for mining would be involved. 2 2.5 Option 6 was to mine as proposed, but exclude Block 22A and marginal nesting sites in Blocks 180, 19 , 21, 22, 24, 25, 26 and 27 . Mining plans for Blocks 22 and 25 should be revised to protect sites in areas of proposed clearing. Block 22A contains 2.9%

of estimated Island reserves of 'A' grade phosphate; Block 22, 3.3%; and Block 25, 18.2%. 2.6 In a joint press statement dated 4 February 1982, the Ministers for Administrative Services and Home Affairs & Environment announced the Government's response to

the recommendations of the Expert Panel. This involved providing for more strictly controlled procedures for phosphate mining on Christmas Island. 3 The announcement made no mention of the Government's adoption of Option 6, which the Committee understands from public evidence has been accepted by the Government.4

2. 7 It is significant to note that the Appraisal and , therefore the Option adopted by the Government, was based on the premise that mining would continue for only another four to six years. It was only on 2 November 1982 that the expected mine life was extended to more than I 0 years. 5

2.8 Option 6 did not specifically seek the inclusion of Block 22A into the existing National Park area, even though it was felt to be of particular significance because of the large number of sites, high si te densit y, its relatively undisturbed nature, the forest cover and because it adjoined the National Park.6 The function of the Expert Panel was

to recommend a range of management options for the mining operation, rather than any specific conservation proposals. Submissions placed before this Committee have recommended the extension of the existing ational Park to include Block 22A. Such a proposal was also placed before the Sweetland inquiry into the long term future of

Christmas Island, by the Australian ational Parks and Wildlife Service. As well, the


ANPWS in response to a lette r from this Committee, commented on the extension of the National Park and stated that inclusion of ' Block 22A and possibly those parts of Blocks 22, 20 and 19B rich in Abbott's Booby sites outside proposed mining areas would be a significan t measure in the overall program to protect Abbott's Booby'. 7 2.9 It is essential to realise that the Government's adoption of Option 6 was not ipso facto an adoption of the ten reco mmendations , but rather the adoption of a manage­

ment option which 'best met' the ten recommendations. Adopting this Option did not prohibit mining of Bl ocks 22 or 25 . Rather, the Company is required to revise its mining plans in accordance with certain agreed guidelines. 2.10 The Company and th e AN PWS have now reached overa ll agreement on a number of detai led issues relating to expl9ration, clearing, mining, rehabilitation, and the Abbott's Booby monitoring program . While the ten recommendations generated the management option - Option 6- they have been superseded by these later agree­ ments. Furthermore, these agreements rel a te to the whole Island, and not just to the mining blocks consi dered by the Expert Panel. They are therefore more significant in deciding on the future program of mining, and for the conservation of the Abbott's

Booby. 2.11 Following the adoption of Management Option 6, six major agreements or mem­ oranda of understanding have been reached: l . Guidelines for Exploration, Clearing, Mining and R ehabilitation, Christmas

Island, Indian Ocean (agreed to, 8 March 1982). 2. Abbott's Booby Monitoring Program including agreements on: • Administration; • Funding; • Timing; • Functions of Expert Pa nel ; • Methodology- First Year; • Relationship between Aims and Methodology (agreed to, 19 May 1983) . 3. Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Abbott's Booby and Mining Reserves

(agreed to, 20 May 1983) . 4. Study to Define Procedure to Provide for th e Long Term Protection of Individual S ites of Abbott's Booby Habitat (agreed to, 20 May 1983) . 5. Agreement relating to Clearance Boundaries of Section 4 Field 25 (agreed to, 21

May 1983) . 6. Memorandum of Understanding on Procedure for Approving Plans for Rain­ forest Clearance (agreed to, 21 May 1983) . 2.12 Guidelines for Exploration. Clearing, Mining and Rehabilitation. Christmas Island, Indian Ocean (Agreed at a Meeting held on 8 March 1982)


A. Exploration I. In the initial surveys no new tracks and clearings will be made. 2. Proposals for line clearing for drilling should include plans showing the extent and spacing of the lines.

3. Removal of trees, rock formations and other features will be kept to a minimum necessary to give access for test drilling. Work will be carried out with the smallest equipment capable of giving access to the drilling rig. 4. Rubbish and industrial waste will be removed from the site during and after drill­

ing operations. 5. At the end of test-drilling all equipment will be removed and vehicular access prohibited and where necessary closed off with barriers. 6. Trees identified as Abbott's Booby sites by the Government Conservator and

PMCI Conservation Officer will not be felled and where necessary detours be made.

B. C learing and Mining

I. Every effort will be made to keep the area of forest cleared as small as possible. Extra clearing for roads should be minimised and so far as possible no rainforest should be cleared solel y for overburden stockpiles. Overburden should be used as backfi ll where possible and the mini ng sequences adjusted to make this practical.

2. Proposals to mine will show the boundaries of the production fields and of the area proposed for jungle clearing, including areas to be used for the stockpiling of overburden, access etc.

3. The mining proposal will indicate the sequence and scheduling of mining oper­ ations, any proposed backfi ll ing, re habili tation and erosion control measures, known fut ure access requirements and Abbott's Booby sites.

4. Corner pegs will be placed in their correct positions by surveyors before inspec­ tions are carried out by the Government Conservator and the PMCI Conservation Office r. The nearest previously cut dri ll line within the area proposed for clearing will be swept, with any necessary offset cut by hand to give access to the corner peg.

5. Following on site inspections by the Govern ment Conservator and the PMCI Con­ se rvati on Offi cer any amendments required to the boundaries will be incorporated in the proposal and marked in the fi eld. J ungle clearing will remain within these ap­ proved bound aries.

6. Small timber will be cleared first and the tall timber after the area has been checked by the G overnmen t Conservator and the PMCI Conservation Officer.

7. Cleared ti mber will be pushed into windrows for burning, wherever possible 50 metres clear of standing jungle or groups of trees retained as Abbott's Booby habitat. Where the edge of a windrow is 30 metres or closer to standing trees, the windrows will not be burned. The min imum distance between such a windrow and standing

tree will be 6 metres.

8. Burning of windrows will onl y be ca rried out on days when wind conditions will not cause scorching or other damage to nearby standing trees and supporting vegetation.

9. Belts of timber or individual trees with supporting canopy identified by the G overnment Conservator and the PMCI Conservation Officer as endangered species nesting a reas will not be clea red while birds are nesting. However, when the breeding cycle is complete the Government Conse rva tor may approve the clearing of these areas foll owi ng consultation with the PMC I Conservatio n Officer.

I 0. Where possible topsoil from cleared areas will be stockpiled separately from the subsoil (although not at the expense of extra clearing) for later rehabilitation work.

II . Where areas to be cleared fo r mini ng are on sloping terrain subject to accelerated run-off after clearing, drainage control banks will be constructed and maintained. Plans for these will be included in the ini tial proposal to mine and necessary adjust­ ments may be made with the agreement of the Government Conservator. Mining will commence at the lowest part of such areas, to provide a sump for run-off, and will

then progress so as to minimise damage from ru n-off.

12. Mining and rehabilitation plans for such areas will take account of any su b­ sequent needs for access identified by a PMCI representative and the Government Conservator.


C. Rehabilitation I . The period between clearing and mining should be as short as possible. 2. Cleared areas should be mined out (primary and secondary recovery) and progressively backfilled, with revegetation being completed as soon as possible after mining ends. 3. Where practical, mined areas should be backfilled to a depth of 1.5m and smoothed over. If available, topsoil will be spread over the backfilled area.

4. Where necessary deep ripping of seriously compacted soils will be carried out. 5. As soon as possible after backfilling, native species should be planted andj or seeded at densities sufficient to achieve rapid crown closure. Fertilisers will be ap­ plied if this is beneficial.

6. Provision should be made where possible for the control of weedy species, princi­ pally Mimosa invisa, for a sufficient time to permit planted stock to outcompete the weeds. 7. Where necessary backfilling plans should incorporate drainage control measures to reduce erosion. 2. 13 These guidelines, while substantially a result of the conclusions reached by the Expert Panel, were a more formal and extensive version of a set of jungle clearing pro­ cedures initiated and used by the British Phosphate Commission since 1974.9

2.14 The second major set of agreements between the Company and the ANPWS is comprised of: (A) Memorandum of understanding regarding Abbott's Booby and mining reserves (20 May 1983) ;

(B) Study to define procedure to provide for the long term protection of individual sites of Abbott's Booby (20 May I 983); (C) Agreement relating to Clearance Boundaries of Section 4, Field 25 (21 May I 983); and

(D) Memorandum of understanding on procedure for approving plans for rainforest clearance (21 May 1983).

(A) Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Abbott's Booby and Mining Reserves (Agreed 20 May 1983) ·


I. It is understood that reserves of phosphate ore within defined preliminary proposed jungle clearing blocks as listed in 'Appraisal and implications of a survey ( 1979-80) of Abbott's Booby on Christmas Island', Figures 3-20, will remain avail­ able for production purposes subject to their development being in accord with the Government decision to implement Option 6 of the Appraisal. Sites within these defined areas may be cleared under the terms of the agreed Guidelines for explo­ ration, clearing, mining and rehabilitation, subject to minor adjustments by mutual agreement between PMCI and ANPWS to account for the position of natural field

boundaries and for shifts in the distribution of sites. Special arrangements may need to be made in the case of Abbott's sites external to such defined areas, but which may be affected by clearing within these areas. 2. In the case of Abbott's Booby habitat outside preliminary proposed jungle clearing blocks, any new proposal will be subject to detailed scrutiny and discussion concern­ ing any likely effects on the Abbott's Booby Study, and in the area's relative mining and conservation values. It will be the responsibility of PMCI to submit for dis­ cussion, a detailed mining appraisal for the area incorporating a status survey of all Abbott's sites which may be affected. Any agreement to proceed with clearing and mining of the area will be by mutual agreement between ANPWS and PMCI.

(B) Study to Define Procedure to Provide for the Long Term Protection of Individual Sites of Abbott's Booby Habitat (Agreed 20 May 1983)

I. The PMCI Conservation Officer and Government Conservator to carry out a sur­ vey of forest margins to determine the extent of forest necessary to prevent exposure damage due to clearance. Attention will be directed towards damage likely to ad­ versely affect Abbott's Booby.

2. Based on the survey results, the PMCI Conservation Officer and the Government Conservator to draw up tables for individual species showing the depth of forest to be left adjacent to individual trees to ensure no damage occurs due to rainforest clearing.

3. If necessary the tables be compiled to indicate the influence of factors such as aspect, topography and forest density on forest depth to be left. 4. If a table can be agreed by the Conservation Officer and the Government Conser­ vator, this table to provide the basis for defining the extent of rainforest to be left bor­ dering a marginal individual tree used as Abbott's Booby habitat when a field clear­

ing plan is considered. 5. The PMCI Conservation Officer and the Government Conservator will refine this table on a continuing basis in association with the Abbott's Booby Monitoring Program.

(C) Agreement relating to Clearance Boundaries of Section 4, Field 25 (Agreed 21 May 1983)

(a) The boundaries determined by drawing protection radii of 62m and 31m around Eugenia and Planchonella sites generally represented the maximum forest buffer to be retained. (b) An access easement 19m wide could be placed between sites 424 and 429.

(c) Buffers around missing sites 435 and 438 could be eliminated if checking showed no new sites in their vicinity. (d) Overall buffer width could be reduced if data from the agreed Study to Define Procedure for the Long Term Protection of Individual Sites of Abbott's Booby Habi­

tat indicated this could be done without affecting long-term protection of individual sites. (e) Trees west of site 2122 would be retained.

(D) Memorandum of Understanding as Agreed 21 May 1983 on Procedure for Approving Plans for Rainforest Clearance I. At the end of February each year PMCI to provide ANPWS with an indicative five year rainforest clearance plan.

2. At end of February each year PMCI to provide ANPWS with proposed rainforest clearance plan for the next financial year and an indication of the relative sig­ nificance of the areas involved. 3. ANPWS to provide comment on proposals (I) and (2) by the end of March each

year and to indicate particularly with respect to (2) those areas acceptable in prin­ ciple and those areas of concern. (N.B. the Director will be on Christmas Island at least once per year in relation to the Abbott's Booby Monitoring Program and this may provide an opportunity for reconciliation and on-site inspections).

4. PMCI to peg out the proposed clearing, notify the Government Conservator and provide the Government Conservator with a rainforest clearance plan for individual fields and lines eight weeks before the proposed clearing is intended to begin.


5. The Government Conservator and PMCI Conservation Officer to carry out site in­ spections and report to PMCI and ANPWS within four weeks of the notification. 6. If the Government Conservator agrees he will sign the clearing plan indicating his approval.

7. If the Government Conservator disagrees, consultation will be held between the PMCI Conservation Officer and the Goverment Conservator to attempt to reach agreement. 8. If the Government Conservator and the PMCI Conservation Officer are unable to reach agreement, the matter will be referred to the General Manager PMCI and the

Director ANPWS for resolution and the Administrator informed. 9. If the matter cannot be resolved it will be referred by the Administrator, with com­ ments by the General Manager and Director, to the appropriate Minister(s) for decision.

I 0. In unforeseen circumstances when PMCI, as a matter of urgency, wishes to vary the annual rainforest clearance program and seeks approval for unscheduled clear­ ing, the Government Conservator will make every effort to expedite site inspection and reporting procedures.


2.15 The third major area of agreement has been the guidelines relating to the Abbott's Booby monitoring program. This is a direct result of recommendation 9 of the Expert Panel's Appraisa/. 10

( 1) Administration of the Program

Admin istration would be handled jointly by ANPWS and PMCI and an Expert Panel would supervise the study. The monitoring team would have use of the ANPWS office, laboratory and garage.

(2) Funding

ANPWS would provide the salaries and allowances of the three staff, the costs of visits to the Island by Professor J.D. Ovington and Profesor J.M. Cullen of the Expert Panel and any agreed contingency co.sts associated with capital equipment and operating ex­ penses. [The 1983- 84 Budget contained an allocation of $92 000 to meet ANPWS responsibilities for the Abbott's Booby Monitoring Program.]

PMCI would provide single domestic accommodation and messing for the staff on the Island subject to normal contributions from the staff as for other resident govern­ ment officers, the cost of Dr J .B. Nelson's travel to the Island as a member of the Expert Panel, capital equipment costs up to a maximum of $65 600 in the first year and $16 500 per year in subsequent years and operating expenses up to a maximum of $22 900 per year, adjusted for inflation in years subsequent to the first year at the aver­ age value of the Capital City CPI for subsequent years.

These arrangements would be subject to a regular review by ANPWS and PMCI.

(3) Timing

Planning would be based on a six year time scale, encompassing three consecutive breeding seasons, to achieve the program's objective. Decisions regarding the achieve­ ment of the objective would rely upon the views of the Expert Panel. Timing would be reviewed annually by the Panel, on the basis of the Annual Report of the Study Team.

The Study Program would formally begin on I July 1983.


( 4) The Expert Panel

The agreed functions of the Expert Panel would be to supervise and provide expert advice on scientific aspects of the Abbott's Booby Monitoring Program, appraise its re­ sults and make recommendations to appropriate authorities. The Panel would also re­ port annually on the state of the Program.

( 5) The Monitoring Program

(5.1) Objective

The objective of the monitoring program is to monitor the breeding success of Abbott's Booby to permit continual review of the protection of the bird a nd the continuation of mining.

(5 .2) Specific Aims

(i) Compare the breeding success and causes of failure of Abbott's Booby in habitat affected by mining with those in habitat not affected by mining. (ii) Investigate annual adult mortality, site and mate fidelity and breeding frequency. (ii i) Monitor the number and distribution of Abbott's Booby, as appropria te, to deter­

mine whether current levels of breeding success are sufficient to maintain a viable population. (iv) Develop a predictive population model to aid in decision making.

(5. 3) Consultations

Opinions a nd suggestions have been sought from the following people and organis­ ations: Dr Bryan Nelson, Aberdeen University; Professor M . Cullen, Monash Univer­ si ty; Phosphate Mining Company of Christmas Island Limited; Officers of CSIRO, from the Division of Water and Land Use Resources, and Rangelands and Wildlife Re­ search; and ANPWS officers.

(5 .4) Methodology (a) Basic Considerations (i) A statistically valid number of nests in a variety of habitats should be monitored for breeding success.

(ii) The variety of habitats chosen for study should include the full spectrum of undisturbed nesting habitat of Abbott's Booby as well as areas affected by mining. (iii) An analysis of the Abbott's nesting habitat should be conducted, and the results compared with a similar analysis of the rest of Christmas Island.

(iv) A subsample of the nests studied should be investigated in detail. (v) Abbott's Boobies in this subsample should be banded and marked. (vi) There should be periodic checks of other areas of the Island to detect changes in nest site distribution.

(b) Selection of Nest Sites A representative sample of Abbott's Booby nest sites would be obtained using a stat­ istically valid technique. Site characteristics would be determined using such par­ ameters as:

( i) density of nest sites; (ii) north, west, south, central and perhaps east sections of the Island; (iii) topographic aspect; (iv) top, flank, bottom of ridge or valley;

(v) slope;


(vi) position of site in tree: top, middle, lower canopy; (vii) type of tree, emergentj non-emergent; (viii) tree species; (ix) distance of sites from clearing edge; (x) orientation of clearing; (xi ) size of clearing; (xii) aspect of clearing edge closest to the site; (xiii) aspect of clearing; (xiv) evidence of die back of canopy at the edge of clearing; ( x v) evidence of die back in the nest tree; and ( xvi) date of clearing, time since clearing. It was not known as at July 1983 which parameters were most important for breeding success, and a precise definition of habitat was diffi cult.

(c) Level of Observation The methodology required two levels of observations: (i ) Coarse focus monitoring (approximately 500 sites) to record the main events of the breeding cycle, such as pair formation, nest building, fledging and successful de­

parture; and (ii) Fine focus monitoring ( 30 sites) to record laying, hatching, attendance of parents and juvenile at the site, etc. (d) Observations of Selected Nests

(i) Return of adults to Christmas Island: identify whether the bird occupying the site is male or female by using binoculars from the ground (500 sites) ; (ii) Nest building: to confirm that the sites are in the same position as the previous year, they should be photographed from the ground vertically below the site, and a photograph of the site tree from this position should also be taken ( 500 sites);

At subsample sites to be examined in detail, birds should be banded and marked, having care for the safety of the birds. If the birds have already been banded they should be caught to identify the bird, and to confirm or otherwise site fidelity ( 30 sites);

(iii) Mating, egg-laying, incubation, egg hatching, time of initial flight: to be recorded by a combination of ground and platform observation and time lapse photography (30 sites); ·

(iv) Weather effects on chick survival: weather data should be recorded and cor­ related with breeding success at nest sites. Regular checks with hand held anem­ ometers at 'core sites' (at nest site level) will enable comparison of Island wind con­ ditions with wind conditions at nest sites (30 sites) ;

(v) Independent young leaving site: the data of departure to be determined by fre­ quent observations of the site (500 sites); and (vi) Attendance at the site by male, female and fledgling young: information avail­ able from observation and time lapse photography (500 sites). (e) CountsoflncomingAbbott'son Tom's Ridge Weekly counts during 1979 and 1980 confirmed subjective observations about the numbers of Abbott's present on Christmas Island at various times of the year. Some further counting may be done.

(5.5) Techniques for Implementing Methodology (a) Observation of Sites The techniques used may include observations from the ground or high level platforms using binoculars or photography including time lapse. Telemetry may also prove valuable.


(b) Capture of Birds (i) Getting to the nest: typically ropes and jumars would be used but in certain situ­ ations scaffolds, ladders or other methods may be appropriate. (ii) Capture of birds, banding and marking: various methods would be investigated to capture birds. Identification of birds would be by recognising individual variations in appearance or voice, by numbered leg bands and by plumage dyes. The procedures

adopted would take into account the safety of the birds and possible side effects. The simplest and easiest method would probably be to band the birds with standard rings for year to year identification, and mark them with dyes for daily recognition within a season. (c) Computing The existing data base should be used for reference and a new data base established for

the current study following consultation with the PMC I Computing Section.

(6) Relationships Between Aims and Methodology

Specific aim (iv) can only be achieved after acquiring field data satisfying specific aims (i), (ii) and (iii) . The relevance of the Methodology to the Specific Aims (i), (ii) and (i ii ) is as follows:

S pec ific Aims (5.2)

(i) Compare the breeding success a nd causes of failure of Abbott's Booby in habitat affected by mining wi th those in habitat not affected by mining (ii) Invest iga te an nua l adult mortality, site a nd

mate fide lit y and breeding frequency

(iii ) Monitor the number a nd di stribution o f

Abott's Booby, as appropriate, to determine whether current le ve ls of breeding success are sufficient

Committee's Conclusions

Methodology (5.4)

(b) Selection of si tes (c) Level of Observation (d) Observation of nests

(d) ( i) Return of adults

(d) (i i) Nest building

(d) (i ii) Mating, egg laying, incubation, egg hatch-ing, time of initial fli ght (d) (v) In dependent young leaving site All of the above and including

(e) Tom's Ridge Counts

2.16 The Committee wishes to give recognition to the progress made between the PMCI and the ANPWS in reaching agreement relating to aspects of phosphate mining and conservation of the Abbott's Booby. The Committee believes there is in existence an adequate mechanism for allowing phosphate mining to proceed in some areas, while

giving due importance and regard to the preservation of the Abbott's Booby. 2.17 From observations made during its inspection of the Island, the Committee recognises the valuable work undertaken by the Company Conservation Officer, Mr D.A. Powell, MBE, in attending to the conservation of the Booby bird and in

researching the rehabilitation of mined areas. 2.18 It is the Committee's understanding that, as a result of the Government's acceptance of Option 6 as it relates to the exclusion of mining in Block 22A, that Block is excluded from mining, and any reversal of this policy would require a Government

decision. 2. 19 The agreements reached following the adoption of Option 6 in effect supersede the ten recommendations arising from the Appraisal by the Expert Panel. It is therefore the Committee's belief that any disagreement between the Mining Company


and the ANPWS should be argued on the basis and wording of these latter agreements, rather than on the wording of the ten recommendations. 2.20 The Committee believes that conservationists should give recognition in a ny negotiations between the Mining Company and the ANPWS to the fact that it was always intended that some sites would be destroyed. In fact, the Appraisal stated that 50 sites would be lost by the adoption of Option 6.

2.21 Clarification also needs to be given in regard to the definition of a 'site' and a 'nest'. If provision is made for a site to be placed on a location map and permanent protection sought for that site, conversely provision should also be made for removal of a site where it is found that it is no longer in use.

2.22 As Option 6 related to only those blocks studied by the Appraisal, the

Government should give guidance to the PMCI as to what criteria are to be used in deciding whether or not Government approval will be given to mine areas outside of those considered by the Appraisal. In order for the Company to adequately assess its mineable ore reserves and to plan its mining operations, such direction from the Government is essential. The Committee is of the opinion that a detailed land use policy for the Island would clarify to the Company the areas which are accessible for mining purposes. The Government's policy on land use and tenure will be formulated as part of its response to the report by Mr W.W. Sweetland on the long-term future of Christmas Island. 2.23 In regard to rehabilitation of mined areas, the Committee believes that the Company should, for each block to be mined in the future, detail the level of subsequent rehabilitation which would be carried out, and for existing mined blocks identify those which have priority for rehabilitation. Further, the Company should propose a timetable for its program of rehabilitation of mined out areas.


I . t.'vidence, p. S 130. 2. /:_'vidence, p. S 125. 3. /:_'vidence. p. S 155 . 4. /:_'vidence, p. 123.

5. Evidence, p. S 185. 6. Evidence, p. S 120. 7. Evidence, p. S 161. 8. Evidence , p. S 159. 9. Evidence, p. S 172. I 0. t 'vidence, p. S 124.



Phosphate Mining and its Economic Viability


3.1 The only significant industry on C hristmas Island is the mining of rock phosphate. The welfare of the employees and the operation of the mine are dependent on the sales of phosphate, which hitherto have been princi pally to Australi a and New Zealand. The Island's mine life has been at the forefront of recent consideration of the long-term

future of the Island. The most pressing problem presently facing the mine is the economic viability of sell ing phosphate rock in a world market depressed by oversupply. The importance of considering both the mine life and the economic viability of mining phosphate are critical issues in deciding the conservation options

avai lable for the preservation of Abbott's Booby.

Phosphate Mining

3.2 The phosphate rock (P20 5) which is mined on the Island is found in varying de­ grees of concentration and purity. Surface overburden, which contains relatively low concentrations of P 20 5, is classified as 'C' or 'D' grade material, whereas the higher con­ cen trations of ore, which are found at greater depth among formations of limestone pin­

nac les , are classified as either 'A' or ' B' grade depending on their composition. The difference between 'A' and ' 8' grade ore can be shown by the following table which in­ dicates the commercial specifications of the rock:1

Table 3.1:-Christmas Island Phospha te Rock Grades

'A' Grade 'B'Grade

P,O, 35 - 36% 32 35%

R,O, 6% 18%

CaCO, 12.5%

H,O 5% 5%

Size < 12 .5 mm < 12 .5mm

3.3 In 1966, the Mining Company undertook an extensive survey of the Island's phos­ phate ore deposits. From this survey, fields were identified and, from these fields, pro­ duction blocks were surveyed for mining. 3.4 T o undertake the extraction and processing of ' A' a nd '8' grade rock from pro­

duction blocks, the overlying rainforest is cleared and burnt, followed by the removal of the overburden material, which is normally stockpiled to be eventually used as backfill. The mining technique employed is strip mining: scrapers lift the ore until the limestone pinnacles are exposed (primary recovery), and then clam shell excavators are used to extract the 'A' grade ore from between the limestone pinnacles (secondary recovery) . Ore recovery is between 45% and 50% of the total phosphate material available. The

Company is currently experimenting with a tertiary recovery method designed to suck up material left between the pinnacles by the excavators. Particular qualities of '8' grade ore can be beneficiated by washing and scrubbing, a nd then separated into a 'C' grade slurry and a recovered ' A' grade material. The mined ore then undergoes drying

before being crushed and stored for export. At the end of each financia l year, the


Company reappraises its estimated ore reserves for the following year. (For a summary of estimated ore reserves, see Table 3.2.)

Phosphate Reserves and Mine Life

3.5 Central to the recent inquiries into the long-term future of the Island have been the estimates of reserves of phosphate rock. Estimates of ore reserves are not fixed amounts of available ore. Ore reserves vary depending on exploration, what quality of mined product is acceptable for sale and what market price for the product currently prevails. As well, in estimating a mine's ore reserves, it should also be borne in mind that

the ore exists in varying degrees of purity and in various geological formations. All of these factors influence whether the ore is actually worth mining and adds qualifications to any estimate of 'ore reserves'. Nevertheless, for the purposes of this discussion, an es­ timate of mine life, in general terms, can be gained by dividing the assessed economi­ cally recoverable ore by the annual rate of production. As at 30 1 une 1983, the phos­ phate reserves were as follows:

Table 3.2:---Summary of Ore Reserves as at 30 June 1983

Millions of wet

Ore category tonnes (MWT)

Measured Ore A Grade 5.8 (MWT)

A j LGrade 0.6 (MWT)

B Grade 3.0 (MWT)

C Grade 7.6 (MWT)

Indicated Ore A Grade 1.3 (MWT)

AjLGrade BGrade 10.3 (MWT)

C Grade 153 (MWT)

Stockpiled Ore A Grade 0 .30

AjLGrade 0.07

BGrade Washable 4.20

Non-Washable 2.90

CGrade 24

Inferred Ore A Grade 3.0

BGrade 5.0

Basis of Reserves

Grade specification

% P,O, %R,O,

% %

36.6 5.9

24.8 3.2

34.0 16.2

28.2 36.5

35 .5 5.3

32.0 16 .0

28.0 35.0

35.0 6.4

27.0 3.0

34.2 17.4

30.8 27.5

28.0 35.0


% 9.4 27.0

11. 5

11.5 32.0

N otes

I , 2, 12 3, 13

4, 5, 6, 13 4,5



5, 6,9 9, 10, 15



[includes potential suction mining] 14 6

All reserves are expressed as millions of wet tonnes (MWT) recoverable by current mining methods. Except for indicated and inferred reserves, tonnages are calculated from drilling and survey information plus 'yields' derived from long-term reconciliations. Ore grades represent drilling or field sampling results, not product grades after dilution and processing.

Division into 'A' and ' B' grade categories is predicated on an 'A' grade rock specification of 4 percent R20 3 (FE203 and AL203). 'C' grade is defined by low temperature calcination requirements. The methods of estimating these reserves incorporate historical, economic and marketing parameters.


I. Measured reserves include 0 .6 MT of ' A ' grade in areas containing about ninety Abbott 's Booby sites, o f which twenty are current nests. 2. Wet tonnage and carbonate grades are based on production histories. In particular the 'average yield ' of 1.53 raised wet tonnes per cubic metre of ore in-situ compares with historical annual yields ranging from 1.26 to 2.21 wet tonnes per cubic metre of reserve loss . In 1982/83 the yield was 1.87.


3. ';\L' grade ore is a mixture of phosphate and limestone mined whi lst recovering 'A' grade. It is field screened to remove coa rse limestone.

4. Measured ' B' and ·c· grade reserves are those reserves whi ch overlie measured 'A' grade reserves and wi ll be removed by fi e ld strip'ping and direct ra isin g.

5. Calcium carbonate grades are low in ' B' a nd 'C' ores, and assays are no t recorded for rese rve purposes.

6. Washability of inground ·s· grade has been assessed in vario us c urrent a nd past test programmes. These in­ dicate that the majority of these rese rves are washa ble.

7. Indicated ';\' grade is ore recoverable by remining o ld qua rries i.e. secondary ore. No a ll owance has been made fo r secondary mining of current primary reserves.

8. There is no category for indi cated 'A L' grade. Small qua ntities of th is material a re produced by secondary mining.

9. Indicated 'B' and ·c grade reserves include va rious potential sources o ther than ove rburden above measured 'A ' grade reserves. Some of these reserves li e wi thin known Abbott 's Booby habitat.

10. Stockpiled ore includes working stocks and accum ul ated ';\ L', ' B' and ·c grade materia ls. It does not in­ clude material rejected during beneficiation such as screen oversize or wash j screen tailings.

II. The distinction between was hable and non-washable stockpiles is a tentative one based on drill assays.

12. Ne t deplet io n in measured ';\' grade reserves during 1982/83 was 0.64 MT and the drawdown of wet';\' grade stockpil es was 0.072 MT.

13. Measured reserves of ';\' and 'B' grades could be cha nged du ring 19 83 / 84 as a res ult of a further re­ assessmen t of estimation procedures, market requirements, a nd beneficiation and mining options currently in progress.

14. The object of ongoin g progra ms of geological invest igation plus tec hnical a nd market development is to bring indicated and inferred re se rves up to measured status.

15. Stockpil ed o re includes some undrilled and un surveyed dumps, for which tonnages and grade are derived from mining records.

3.6 Latest estimates indicate that high grade phosphate reserves on the Island are suf­ ficient to sustain a high grade mining operation for more than ten years, at a rate of 1.3 to 1.4 million tonnes per year. 3 It has also been estimated that if the mining of land covered by 'A' and ' B' grade deposits were to take place, the land affected by the mining operation would represent approximately 22 - 25% of the Island ( 30- 34 square

kilometres) .


3.7 The Australian Phosphate Commission, under the terms of the Cape Hawke Charter with ANL, undertakes the shipping of phosphate rock to fertiliser manufac­ turers in Australia. Under this Agreement, it is obliged to ship, in total, a minimum of 900 000 tonnes from Christmas Island, Nauru a nd Townsville to the manufacturing

centres. Should these minimum tonnages not be shipped, the freight cost per tonne of phosphate rises. Where tonnages exceed the specified minimum, the f.o.b. rate falls and therefore the landed cost per tonne of phosphate falls correspondingly. This charter agreement is due to expire in 1986.

3.8 Vessels operating under this Agreement are regarded as being in the coasting trade and therefore must, under the terms of the Agreement, engage Australian crews under Australian wage rates and conditions. As international shipping rates are currently de­ pressed, there exists at present a differential between Australian and international ship­

ping rates of around $16- $20 a tonne (that is , if international rates were to be used on the Christmas Island/ Australian run, there would be a cost saving of between $16 and $20 a tonne) . Furthermore, the freight component of phosphate rock shipped from Christmas Island to Australia, compared with that shipped from Florida to Australia, is

in the order of $30 compared with $16. Christmas Island phosphate can be shipped to New Zealand for about $10 per tonne. Where these charges are incurred, they are passed on to the manufacturer and, in turn, the farmer.



3.9 As the phosphate mined on Christmas Island has hitherto been marketed princi­ pally in Australia and in New Zealand, it has been the local manufacturers who created the demand which provides the rationale for the mining operation on the Island. At present Australian demand for single superphosphate fertilisers is depressed, and is expected to remain so for some time. The reasons for this are depressed markets for pri­

mary produce, the recent drought, and an increasing displacement of single superphos­ phate by high analysis fertilisers. 3.10 Demand for fertiliser in Australia has fallen from 3.96 million tonnes in 1979- 80 to 3.91 million tonnes in 1981 - 82. The majority of this amount would have been com­

posed of single superphosphate fertilisers. More recently, there has been a growing use of high analysis fertilisers, such as Triple Superphosphate (TSP) and Di-ammonium Phosphate (DAP). The demand for these fertilisers has increased from 605 000 tonnes to 780 000 tonnes between June 1980 and June 1982. As 80% of the TSP and 100% of the DAP is imported, and since Christmas Island phosphate contains impurities which make it unsuitable for upgrading to high analysis fertilisers, these fertilisers have dis­ placed the demand for phosphate rock from Christmas Island. On a 'tonnes of phos­ phorus' basis, these fertilisers now account for 30% of total Australian demand. 3. 11 The other major consideration is cost. The international price of phosphate rock, expressed as a f.o.b. cost, has plummeted over the last year or so, whereas the costs o f producing Christmas Island phosphate rock have steadily increased until the cost of this rock is far in excess of that produced in Florida or the other major world sources. (See Table 3.3, Phosphate Rock Prices- by source) .

Table 3.3: Phosphate Rock Prices- By Source

Christmas Island 77 % BPL

Average for A$ per

year ending 30 June tonnefo.b.

1976-77 24

1977- 78 24

1978- 79 23

1979- 80 29

1980- 80 35

1981 - 82 43

Aug. 1982 43

Calendar year

Apr. 1976 Dec. 1977 Jul. 1978 Jan. 1979

Jan. 1980 Feb. 198 1 Aug. 1982

Florida68 % BPL

US$ per export list

33 28 24 33 43

tonnefo.b. Australian price

48 38.5

33- 36 30.

Source: ABS Import Statistics, Chemical Economics Handbook, British Sulphur Corpora tion.

3.12 The landed cost of raw material from Christmas Island is currently around $63 a tonne, which compares with $51 a tonne for phosphate rock from Florida. After the costs of manufacture, delivery and spreading, the cost of single superphosphate ferti­ liser to the farmer is $123 a tonne for Christmas Island-sourced phosphate rock and $111 a tonne for Florida-sourced phosphate rock. This cost differential becomes even more significant when considering the cost of high analysis fertilisers, which, on a cost

per unit of phosphorus, are as follows:

Table 3.4: Comparathe Phosphate Rock Costs-By Source

Cost per unit of phosphorus


Ch ristmas Island


Florida TSP DAP

$1 2.20 $1 2.23 $10.70

3.13 Under currently prevailing costs of extraction, shipping charges, and with the varying quality of the ore mined, it has become difficult for Christmas Island to main­ tain its competitiveness in comparison with other world phosphate sources. Australian manufacturers have attempted to reduce the cost of their manufacturing process by

buying phosphate rock from cheaper world sources and by supplementing local pro­ duction with high analysis fertiliser imports. New fertiliser factories have been built to operate most effectively using phosphate from, for example, Florida or Jordan, rather than Christmas Island. As a result of its uncompetitiveness, manufacturers sought not

to purchase phosphate from Christmas Island beyond December 1982. Further nego­ tiations have resulted in reduction of their intake from 900 000 tonnes in 1981 j82 to 650 000 tonnes in 1982j83. It is however expected that the demand in Australia for Christmas Island phosphate rock will stabilise at around 600 000 tonnes per annum.

3.14 Manufacturers believe that Christmas Island phosphate could regain its compe­ titiveness if the product were shipped under prevailing world freight rates. Should this occur, Christmas Island phosphate would be able to compete with phosphate rock from major world suppliers, such as Florida. 4

3.15 The Company perceives that in the long term demand for its product in Australia and New Zealand will not return to historical levels, and therefore it is seek­ ing to increase sales in alternative markets in Asia. Prior to April 1983, sale of Christ­ mas Island phosphate was restricted to Australia and New Zealand, with the exception of up to 20% of production in excess of Australian and New Zealand requirements,

which could be sold on the world market, but only at the ruling AustralianjNew Zealand price. On 30 April 1983, the Minister for Territories and Local Government, the Hon. Tom Uren, MP, announced the lifting of those restrictions, thus enabling the PMCI to sell as much as it could on the world market, with a particular eye to East and South East Asia. The Company hopes to take advantage of a projected shortfall of 19

million tonnes of phosphate rock in the Asian region both by shipment of excess 'A' grade rock and by increasing the export of 'B' grade direct application fertiliser to 575 000 tonnes by 1987- 88.

Mining Economics

3.16 The Company's mining operations were increased during the 1970s to meet a growing demand for single superphosphate fertiliser. The mining operation now faces a current downturn in markets, yet the Mining Company requires sales of around 1.3-1.4 million tonnes per annum to operate most economically.

3.17 Under present arrangements, the Company meets the costs of the Island administration and services, such as education, electricity, etc- these are borne out of the money flow from the mining operation and are a direct charge to the cost of pro­ duction. Some 15% of the Company's payroll is absorbed in areas which would not be

its responsibility if it was a normal mainland mining operation. It is estimated that these indirect costs (which to all intents and purposes are fixed), amount to around 30% of the Company's operating costs, and add an additional $13 .00 per tonne of projected sales for the current year.

3.18 With falling demand for phosphate, but with the need to maintain production levels in order to retain efficiency, stockpiles of phosphate rock on the Island increased from 365 730 tonnes at 30 June 1981 to 510 986 tonnes at 30 June 1982, resulting in further pressure on the Island's trading position.

3.19 Phosphate from Christmas Island has hitherto proven more acceptable to Aus­ tralian fertiliser manufacturers than phosphate from the Duchess mine in Western Queensland. Duchess phosphate requires beneficiation, and this, together with the cost of transport by rail to Townsville, has made it uncompetitive with Christmas Island


phosphate. The Duchess deposits are estimated to contain at least 3 billion tonnes of phosphate rock, of which about 40 million tonnes is high-grade rock suitable for direct shipping. Although the equipment currently used by Australian fertilizer manufac­ turers, and current marketing arrangements, now give Christmas Island production definitive advantages over Duchess, the latter is available as a deposit within Australian territory, which could be exploited when eventually Christmas Island production comes to an end.

3.20 In summary, the Phosphate Mining Company of Christmas Island is operating a venture estimated to be worth over $500 million in assets, mining a resource with an expected life of around ten years, and trying to sell a product which is overpriced in comparison to current world prices, and which is experiencing a fall in demand. The Company has a high level of fixed costs, high costs of shipping its product to its Aus­

tralian market, and has few available funds for restructuring. It is facing a difficult period over the next three years or so but, given effective management and the co­ operation of the workforce, it could survive this period to continue for another decade to provide a significant proportion of the phosphate requirements of Australia and New Zealand, and of developing markets in East and South East Asia.


I. Phosphate Mining Company of Christmas Island Limited Annual Report !98 1- 82, p. 18 . 2. ibid, p. 19. 3. Minister for Administrative Services Press Release, Evidence, p. S 185. 4. Evidence, p. 25.



The Future of the Island and its Inhabitants

4.1 At present, the Island supports a population of just under 3000 people, 1300 of whom are directly employed by the Phosphate Mining Company of Christmas Island (PMCI) . 4.2 The workforce has been drawn largely from urban Malaysia, with few residents

able to claim any extended association with the Island. Only one-fifth of the population could in 1981 trace any association back to the era of the 1940s or 1950s.1 Most resi­ dents, particularly the European community, are recent arrivals who have come to the Island during the last decade. As a result, there is only a small section of the population

who would claim strong ties with the Island. Should employment opportunities become restricted following the downgrading of mining operations, it could be expected that most of the population would move away, leaving only a few long-term residents. 4.3 The Island's population is composed of three major ethnic groups: Chinese, Malay and European. Each ethnic group has a strong sense of a separate identify, with its own

religion, customs, social clubs and living areas (especially in the case of the Malay sec­ tor of the community). By far the largest is the Chinese sector of the community, which at June 1983 accounted for close to 60% of the total population, wereas the Malay and European sectors accounted for 25 % and 12% respectively. Only 30% of the Island's in­

habitants currently hold Australian citizenship, while over 50% hold Malaysian citizen­ ship and 10% hold Singaporean citizenship. 4.4 In January 1981, the Commonwealth Migration Act was extended to include Christmas Island. This has meant that all residents on the Island at the time of the

extension of the Act acquired permanent resident status in Australia. For those resi­ dents wishing to leave the Island and resettle elsewhere, there are at present two re­ settlement schemes which provide forms of assistance, regardless of the country of des­ tination. About 300 Island residents have applied for Australian citizenship.

4.5 The Christmas Island community has, since the earliest days of settlement, been a sheltered society. Electricity, water, sewerage, garbage collection, road maintenance, health services, tuition at the Technical School, and accommodation, are at present provided free to the Island residents by the Mining Company. The residents do not pay

income tax. While the mine employees have redressed past inequities of low wages and poor working conditions, they still do not contribute directly to publicly funded services in the way other Australian citizens do. There is recognition on the part of the UCIW that this state of affairs will alter in the light of the changing economic fortunes of the

mining operation, and as a consequence of the general integration of Christmas Island into the wider Australian community. 4.6 Apart from the area taken up by the National Park, all land on the Island is unalienated Crown land, with no resident having access to freehold title, nor any politi­ cal representation, apart from an Island Advisory Council. The Government adminis­

ters the Island under the terms of the Christmas Island Agreement Act, for which the Federal Minister for Territories and Local Government is responsible. An Adminis­ trator is appointed by the Governor-General to administer orderly government on the Island and is responsible for consular, police, postal, and educational services. The

mining operation which supports the Island's inhabitants and their dependants is undertaken by a Company which is wholly owned by the Australian Government.


These political and administrative arrangements are unique, not to say anomalous, in contemporary Australia. 4.7 Apart from the Administration and the Mining Company, the third major interest group on the Island is the trade union movement. There are three un io ns: the Union of Christmas Island Workers (UCIW) ; the Christmas Island Staff Association and the Christmas Island Police Association. By far the largest union is the UCIW, with 1300

members, who have close to 600 dependants living on the Island. In effect, 95 % of the Mining Company's workforce are members of this Union, which negotiates with the Company or Administration on matters ranging from fees for the Technical School to retirement or redundancy benefits for its members. In regard to the latter claim, the

Union has achieved redundancy payments of $2000 per year of service for its members, with no Company-initiated redundancy- redundancy being employee-initiated only. The average per capita redundancy entitlements and accumulated benefits for those employees who resigned in 1981 - 82 totalled $14 000 to $15 000. 4.8 The motivating force for the creation of the UCIW was the need to rectify the ex­

ploitation of an Asian workforce employed under low wages and sub-standard working conditions. This goal having been largely achieved, it has more recently given way to the pursuit and maximising of financial and social benefits for UCIW members in the face of foreseeable closure of the mining operation. So successful has the Union been, that Sweetland referred to it in the following terms:

The UCJW has, by default, moved into an ongoing role as an al ternative government to the Administration, upon whom it exerts industrial pressure to meet its social goals, just as it exerts pressure on the Mining Company to attain industrial goa ls. '4

The UCIW executive, in contrast to the official Administration, is elected by a majority of the Island's adult residents. Sweetland also suggested that, as the aim of the Union was the pragmatic pursuit of income maximisation, this objective might now be a hin­ drance to the evolution of the Island toward a more diversified economic and social structure. 4.9 The UCIW is conscious of the need to preserve the Abbott's Booby, and to con­ duct mining in a way which allows both the bird to be preserved and the recovery of

phosphate to proceed in a profitable way. The agreements which have been reached be­ tween the PMCI and the ANPWS are acceptable to the Union. With respect to Block 22A, the Union believes that no decision on whether mining should proceed should be made until other 'A' grade deposits have been exhausted, and until further studies have been undertaken to determine the likely effect of mining on the Abbott's Booby popu­ lation. Re-afforestation deserves a higher priority than it has hitherto received, in the opinion of the Union, and funds for this should be made available from the assets of the Christmas Island Phosphate Commission. 4.10 The PMCI has inherited an overstaffed operation from the time when labour was cheap and a labour-intensive style of operation made economic sense. Sweetland, in his second report, recommended a drastic reduction in staffing levels in order to cut costs and improve efficiency. 5 A comparison with other phosphate mines highlights Christmas Island's disadvantage in this respect. For example, the Duchess

(Queensland) mine produced, when it was in operation, 7000 tonnes per employee per year, whereas Christmas Island produces only 1000 tonnes per employee per annum (although this is partly due to the accessibility of the Duchess deposits- pure phos­ phate strata which can be easily scooped up- compared to the Christmas Island de­ posits, which are located among limestone pinnacles) . A study by Coopers and Lybrand in 1981 conclu.ded that the PMCI could operate with about 600 to 700 employees di­

rectly engaged in mining, but the cost of municipal services would still be required to be borne by the Company in some form or other.


4.11 The future of the Island and its inhabitants has been thoroughly examined by the Sweetland inquiry into the long-term future of the Island. While numerous industries or activities were canvassed in that report for the post 'A' grade mining era, only two would seem to have reasonable prospects of success: low level phosphate mining, and

tourism. The establishment of a scientific research station might also justify investigation. 4.12 It might be supposed that because Christmas Island is an isolated island to our northwest, it would have a large defence role. On closer examination, its strategic im­

portance appears to be limited. The Island does represent the only land mass in a huge area of ocean, and is situated close to the Sunda Strait, which is a major sea lane, par­ ticularly for approaching Australia; yet the Island lacks a sheltered anchorage or har­ bour. It is also very close to Java and very far from the Australian mainland.

4.13 The defence significance of the Island lies in its proximity to important sea lanes, and in its suitability for testing underwater surveillance systems (such as in 'Operation Flowerless'). The Island does not confer any significant advantage upon an enemy threatening Australia. Australian sovereignty of the Island does, however, mute any

competing claims by other powers in the area, and thus adds stability to the region by inhibiting disputes over the successor status of the Island. 4.14 Apart from a low level of phosphate mining, the other activities of tourism and a scientific research station (similar to that established on Heron Island) would present

no threat to the Island's ecology. Tourism, however, could be expected to be limited be­ cause of the Island's isolation. It has been suggested that the Island could be included as a stop-over point for cruise ships between Perth and Singapore. 4.15 The scientific significance of the Island is great, given the number of its endemic

land and marine species. Of all the tropical Indian Ocean islands, Christmas Island has been the least affected by human settlement. It is probable that a scientific research station could be justified, with the task of undertaking research into both the land and marine environment. The Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service (ANPWS),

in its 1981 submission to the Sweetland Inquiry into the long-term future of Christmas Island, indicated its view of the scientific value of the Island by suggesting the establish­ ment of such a station.5 The ANPWS suggested that the station, with permanent staff and residential facilities for visiting researchers, could fulfil the following functions:

• A base for much needed research to establish the status of Christmas Island's flora and fauna . • A base for research on Christmas Island's coral reef. Such a facility would allow com­ parative research with the Great Barrier Reef and the Coral Sea Islands (e.g. a 1978

survey by the Western Australian Museum discovered 16 new species of fish inhabit­ ing the Christmas Island coral reef). • A base for cetacean surveys to complement those currently planned for the Indian Ocean Whale Sanctuary by the International Whaling Commission. • A base for weather surveillance. At present, weather observations are conducted by

staff of the PMCI and relayed daily to Perth as part of weather surveillance of the north-eastern Indian Ocean. • A base for seismological surveys in this tectonically active area of the Indian Ocean. • A focal point on Christmas Island for nature-based tourism. 4.16 The number of persons who could be employed by such activities is unknown.

However, other examples of island populations, such as Lord Howe or Norfolk Islands, suggest that even small island populations can be healthy and viable. It would appear that there could be sufficient employment opportunities in such industries for all of the existing residents who might be expected to remain on the Island after the 'A' grade

phosphate mining ceases. The Island's possible future undertakings, such as tourism or


a scientific research station, are dependent on maintaining the ecological richness and natural resources of the Island. As the Island's future evolves, a smaller population than at present will probably result. This would in no way affect Australia's sovereignty, which does not depend on maintaining the existing kind of economic activity but, rather, on an Australian administration and some form of occupancy by Australian citizens.


I. Department of Home Affairs and the Environment, Inquiry into the long-term future of Christmas Island, Canberra, I 982, p. I 9. 2. News Release 26 June I 980, Evidence, p. S I 53. 3. Annual Report for Christmas Island for 1980/81, p. 27. 4. ibid., p. 35.

5. ibid., p. 27. 6. Inquiry into the Long Term Future o f Christmas Island- Submissio n fro m the Directo r o f Natio na l Pa rks and Wildlife, p. 17.



Environmental Conservation and Christmas Island

The Christmas Island National Park and Other Conservation Measures

5.1 A permanent reserve for the Abbott's Booby was first recommended by the House of Representatives inquiry into the conservation of endangered species on Christmas Island, which reported in October 1974.1 However, it was not until the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) strongly recom­

mended at its General Assembly in 1978 the establishment of a National Park 'sufficient to ensure adequate protection to the island's fauna, flora and the ecosystem in which they have evolved'2 that the proposal to establish such a park was considered in earnest. In that same year, the Mining Company, through its own Conservation

Officer, was instrumental in identifying an area for a national park which was of sig­ nificant value not only as Abbott's Booby habitat but as being representative of most of the flora and fauna found on the Island. As was then necessary, the British Phosphate Commissioners obtained both Australian and New Zealand agreement to the proposal, and the Christmas Island National Park was proclaimed on 21 February 1980.

5.2 The Park comprises 1600 hectares or 12% of the Island's land surface, and is managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service in accordance with the National Parks and Wildlife Services Act 1975. Approximately 20% of Abbott's Booby sites are within the area of the Park and, in general, the Park is representative of much of the

Island's wildlife, although some endemic species, such as the Christmas Island Frigate Bird (fregata andrewsi), do not nest within the area. 5.3 The preservation from forest clearing and mining operations of the Abbott's Booby habitat within the Park area is assured; however, there has been criticism that the allocated area is far too small to be of significant value. Eighty percent of Abbott's Booby sites lie outside the National Park, and if the bird's population is as precariously

balanced as has been suggested, then the declaration of a Park which preserves 20% of this population would not be sufficient in itself to ensure the preservation of the species. The Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service, the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Total Environment Centre of Sydney have all stated their belief in

the inadequacy of the Park area and the need for the Park to be extended. One witness said: 'the existing park .. . does not contain sufficient habitat to ensure the survival of Abbott's Booby; there are 80% more breeding sites outside the Park than inside; and 1600 hectares is hardly a national park by anyone's definition around the world, and in­

cluding our own CONCOM definition'. 3 5.4 In its submission to the Second Sweetland Inquiry, the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service stated that serious consideration needed to be given to adding to the Park seven areas identified in the submission as being of particular conservation and scientific interest: I) Field 22A and Smithson's Bight Terraces; 2) North Coast Ter­

races; 3) East Coast Terraces (excluding Ross Hill Gardens RHI and RH2); 4) North­ eastern Terraces from Lily Beach to Settlement (excluding LB7 and possibly JRI); 5) South Point Terraces; 6) Grant's Well Rainforest; and 7) Western Area Plateau (ex­ cluding present and planned areas cleared for mining) . The Sweetland inquiry accepted

(I), (2) and the Hosnies Spring freshwater mangrove stand in (3) for inclusion in the National Park as part of its proposed land zoning plan. (See map, Annex D). During this inquiry a specific proposal from the ANPWS to extend the National Park was placed before the Committee in these terms:


'Extension of the National Park, and in particular to include Block 22A and possibly those parts of Blocks 22, 20 and 19B rich in Abbott's Booby sites outside proposed mining areas, would be a significant measure in the overall program to protect Abbott's Booby. '•

5.5 The Australian Conservation Foundation, while seeing the need for the extension of the Park, also sees this as a first step in declaring the whole Island, including the mar­ ine environment, a national or nature reserve. 5 The initial extension suggested by ACF is from North West Point to Smith Point. As well, the International Union for the Con­ servation of Nature and Natural Resources, on 8 November 198 2 passed a resolution seeking the extension of the Park to include all significant areas of Abbott's Booby habi­

tat, to protect other endangered island species, and to contain examples of the many representative island ecosystems, and urging the Australian Government to nominate the Island for the World Heritage listing.6 5.6 Another indirect avenue for conservation has been the recent legislation- the

Christmas Island Agreement Amendment Act 1983- which effectively transfers the complete responsibility for the mining operation on the Island into the hands of the Australian Government. With the proclamation of this new Christmas Island Act, Commonwealth legislation can serve as a tool of nature preservation on the Island.

Federal legislation such as the Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act 1974 and the Australian Heritage Commission Act 1975 are two such examples.7 5. 7 The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment and Conser­ vation recommended in 1974 that:

(a) 'C' grade phosphate deposits be used immediately to back-fill mined areas, and that the process of back-filling and re-planting continuously accompany the progress of mining; and (b) that the existing tree nursery be greatly expanded and that the practice of planting trees in mined out areas be implemented on an extensive scale.

Very little reafforestation of the total area that has been cleared on the Island has in fact taken place. A large amount of 'A' grade phosphate remains on site after secondary mining (using the clam-shell excavator) has been completed, and the possibility of recovering this valuable material, using the pneumatic suction method (tertiary recov­ ery), has made the PMCI unwilling to close off this option by proceeding with

reaff orestation. 5.8 At present, 20 000- 30 000 tree .seedlings a year are produced from the PMCI plant nursery for replanting mined areas. This output would need to triple if all the areas that are the responsibility of the PMCI for rehabilitation were planted.8 It is gen­ erally accepted that mined areas cannot be restored to their pristine state.9 The hope of

regeneration is to provide cover to exposed land and thereby decrease dehydration of areas bordering rainforest, and help to promote the return particularly of seed-carrying birds, to restore in a natural way local species of trees and plants. The agreed aim is to recreate a terrace type of flora on selected areas. While the Phosphate Mining Company of Christmas Island accepts responsibility for the areas it has mined, there is some doubt as to who is responsible for rehabilitating areas mined by the British Phos­ phate Commission prior to June 1981. 10 It is understood that as at 30 June 1982, the

PMCI had $3. 16m available for rehabilitation and reafforestation. 11 During 1983-84, it was proposed to spend $400 000 on conservation, representing a charge of 34c per tonne of projected sales. That figure would rise to $1.4m if the cost of backfilling of mined out areas was included. The cost of rehabilitating one hectare of mined out ground is estimated to be $14 000. The PMCI Board planned to consider its policy on

rehabilitation in the latter part of 1983. 5.9 In 1977, the Mining Company voluntarily imposed a moratorium on rainforest clearing in certain fields where there were large numbers of Abbott's Booby sites. 12 This provided a breathing space for the thorough survey of the bird's nesting sites carried out


by Powell and Tranter, and the Expert Panel's appraisal of this survey carried out in January 1981. This moratorium has now expired, but while in effect it allowed the agreement on guidelines for forest clearing to be formulated, so that mining fields, in particular field 27, are now being cleared in accordance with a recognised plan designed

to aid the conservation of bird sites.

Other Possibly Endangered Species

5.10 The Island's isolation and small size, as well as limiting the diversity of species endemic to it, have prevented genetic intermingling of the flora and fauna with those from other land masses. The scientific significance of Christmas Island rests not only on the presence of the Abbott's Booby, but also on the fact that the Island is a repository

for several other unique plant and animal (both marine and terrestrial) species.

5.11 There are 30 endemic species of flowering plants, and between 20 and 30 endemic rainforest species on the Island.13 Endemic crab and reptile fauna on the island include the red crab, two skinks, two geckos and a blind snake. The only mammals endemic to the Island are the Christmas Island fruit bat, and the Christmas Island insec­

tivorous bat. The number of endemic species and subspecies of avifauna has led to the Island's being described as 'one of the world's great seabird islands'. 14

5.12 Of nine species of breeding seabirds, two are endemic whereas another is a very distinct subspeciesY These species are the Christmas Island Frigatebird, the Abbott's Booby and the Golden Bosunbird. There are also two endemic landbird species- the Christmas Island Imperial Pigeon and the Christmas Island Silvereye. Five other

species of landbird also exhibit a high degree of endemism and are represented as endemic subspecies. (For a complete list of birds found on the Island, refer to Annex E) .

5.13 The scientific research value of such a unique population of endemic flora and fauna is of course very great. Any change to the Island brought about by either the clearing of rainforest habitat or poaching will undoubtedly endanger other species besides the Abbott's Booby. Already there is concern about a list of species which

includes: the Christmas Island Imperial Pigeon, the Green Turtle, the Hawksbill Turtle, the Christmas Island Hawk Owl, the Christmas Island Thrush, the Christmas Island Silvereye and the Christmas Island Goshawk.

5.14 Concern was expressed by some witnesses before the Committee that large numbers of the Island's Red Crabs (Gecarcoidea nata/is) were crushed by trucks and other traffic while crossing the roads during their annual migrations from the inland forest to the sea to spawn.16 It was suggested that this could be avoided by the simple expedient of constructing pipe underpasses under the roads, with metal deflector strips

along the sides of the roads to funnel the crabs into the underpasses. Although the loss of life from being crushed by road traffic during the migration season is probably not as great a threat to the viability of the species as destruction of its forest habitat, if it could be avoided as simply as has been suggested, this would be desirable.

5.15 Apart from limiting the effect on the habitat of rainforest clearing, which will do much to enhance the survival prospects of most of these endangered species, there is also a need to give the Island's residents an appreciation of the delicate balance in which some of these species survive. The economic wellbeing of the Island could depend on

the maintenance of these species as a resource for continuing scientific research.



I. Parliamentary Paper 325f 74. 2. Evidence, S.l 08. 3. Evidence, p. I 04. 4. Evidence, p. S 161. 5. Evidence, p. 44. 6. Evidence, p. S29. 7. Evidence, S.43, S. 7. 8. Evidence, p. 118. 9. Evidence, p. 78. I 0. Evidence, p. II. I I. Evidence, p. S26. 12. Evidence, p. 122. 13. Evidence, p. 99. 14. Evidence, p. S I 06. 15. Evidence, p. S I 06. 16. Evidence, pp. 95, S 169.



Conclusions and recommendations


6.1 The Abbott's Booby, now found only on Christmas Island, once had a wider distribution throughout the islands of the Indian Ocean. It became extinct on Rodriguez, Assumption and other islands as a result of the destruction of the forests in which it bred, following human settlement of those islands. The population remaining

on Christmas Island, numbering less than 9000 individuals, is considered to be only just large enough to be able to cope with the natural disasters that may be expected to occur in the normal course of events (such as cyclones, poor fishing seasons, droughts, forest fires, epidemics). From 1888, human settlement of the Island introduced new factors,

which have operated against the long-term viability of the species to an increasing degree. 6.2 Australia has a clear obligation to preserve the Abbott's Booby, under the terms of the 1974 Australia/Japan Agreement for the Protection of Migratory Birds and Birds

in Danger of Extinction and their Environment. This obligation is implemented through the Territory of Christmas Island Migratory Birds Ordinance 1980, in Schedule 2 of which the Abbott's Booby is listed as 'a bird of a species in danger of extinction'. The Abbott's Booby is also· protected under the Wildlife Protection

(Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1982, which implements the 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

6.3 The Abbott's Booby is only one of the species of animal and plant life that make up the unique ecosystem of Christmas Island. Many of these species are endemic to the Island, and the ecosystem of which they form part may be considered an invaluable re­ source for the study of evolution, genetics and population dynamics. The 1972

UNESCO Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, to which Australia is signatory, states that each State which is party to the Convention should take all possible steps to ensure the transmission of the natural heritage situated in its territory to future generations.

6.4 Clearing of rainforest for phosphate mining has destroyed a large proportion of the limited area available to the Abbott's Booby on the Island for nesting. Recognition of this fact led to a virtually complete moratorium on new clearing after 1977. Any clearing since March 1982 has been done in accordance with the agreements between

the PMCI and the ANPWS detailed above (Chapter II). These agreements ensure that any clearing will be limited in scope and effect. 6.5 The Committee considers that phosphate mining carried on in accordance with the plans and procedures agreed between the PMCI and ANPWS in March 1982 and

May 1983 should not have an unduly detrimental effect on the continued viability of the Abbott's Booby population of Christmas Island.

6.6 While reaching this conclusion, the Committee also notes that, in view of the small size of the population and the small area of its habitat, any further clearing of rainforest, even that sanctioned under PMCij ANPWS guidelines, will push the species closer to the limits of viability.

6. 7 The area actually rehabilitated by the Company has been small, even though reafforestation began as long ago as 1962. Only small trial plots have been rehabilitated


for evaluation purposes. While it is generally agreed that it is impracticable to reha bili­ tate all disturbed areas to their original state, it is now part of the Company's responsi­ bility under the terms of the PMCI / ANPWS guidelines for rainforest clearance to back-fill and re-plant mined out areas. This agreement relates to areas cleared and mined after March 1982. The Company's policy towards areas mined prior to that date is still to be defined. It is expected that this policy will be finalized by the end of 1983.

6.8 Phosphate mi!1ing will probably continue on Christmas Island for about another decade, at a production rate of 1- 1.1 million tonnes of 'A' grade, and 0.2- 0.3 million tonnes of 'B' grade rock per annum. Most of the product will find markets in New Zealand and Australia. Christmas Island will probably remain a commercially attract­

ive source of phosphate for Australian manufacturers. It is well-known that, because of the great age of Australian soils in comparison with those of Europe or North America, they contain from only a tenth to as little as one-hundredth or less of the amount of phosphorus found in the soils of those continents. The value of Christmas Island phos­ phate for Australian agriculture has been great, and probably will continue to remain


6.9 If the Island is to sustain a viable human population after mining comes to an end, the establishment of alternative industries must commence as soon as possible. It will be necessary to ensure that any new industries do not adversely affect the Island's fauna and flora, including the Abbott's Booby. In this context, the Committee will be

interested in the Government's response to the Sweetland report on the long-term future of Christmas Island, and will monitor the implementation of the measures it recommends.


I . Adequate funds should be provided in the Government's Annual Budgets for the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service to ensure that the Abbott's Booby Monitoring Program as agreed on 19 May 1983 can be carried out over the agreed six­ year period from I July 1983 until 30 June 1989.

2. Adequate funds should also be provided by the Phosphate Mining Company of Christmas Island to meet its obligations to the agreed Abbott's Booby Monitoring Program over the six-year period.

3. The 1981 Appraisal by the Expert Panel recommended that Block 22A not be mined, in view of its considerable biological significance. This recommendation was ac­ cepted by the Government when it adopted Option 6 put forward by the Expert Panel. The ANPWS has since stated that inclusion of Block 22A in the National Park would

be a significant measure in the overall program to protect the Abbott's Booby (see para. 5.4). Therefore, the Committee recommends that possible extension of the Christmas Island National Park to include Block 22A and Smithson's Bight Terraces (see area No. I in the map at Annex D), should be investigated.

4. The back-filling and re-planting which has taken place since 1974 has fallen far short of the recommendations of the report by the House of Representatives Com­ mittee on Environment and Conservation. There is an urgent need to increase the rate and area of rehabilitation. The possibility of recovering the large amount of 'A' grade phosphate.still remaining after secondary recovery has hitherto inhibited rehabilitation. To avoid procrastination, high priority should be given to finalising testing of the feasi­ bility of tertiary recovery using the pneumatic suction process: if this is successful, ter­ tiary recovery should proceed without delay in order to leave the way clear for rehabili­ tation. Otherwise, rehabilitation should proceed.


5. Funds held by the PMCI for rehabilitation should be released, and used primarily for back-filling and re-planting of prime Abbott's Booby habitat areas which were de­ stroyed during the 1970- 71 clearing operations. The PMCI Conservation Officer and the Government Conservator should identify these areas in order of priority, following

which a rehabilitation program should be drawn up detailing the level of back-fill, the kind of flora to be established, and the timetable to be followed. 6. Any phosphate mining should continue in accordance with the guidelines and agreements detailed above in Chapter II of this report.

7. Since the guidelines and agreements reached in March 1982 and May 1983 rep­ resent a reasonable framework for future negotiations between the PMCI and the ANPWS on measures to be taken with regard to the preservation of the Abbott's Booby, these should form the basis of any future negotiations.

8. A number of industries were considered by Mr W.W. Sweetland in his inquiry into the long-term future of Christmas Island. As the estimated life of phosphate mining as the sole industry on the Island is only about another decade, the time available for the establishment of alternative industries is very short. The conservation of the Island's

flora and fauna, including the Abbott's Booby, will be closely influenced by the kinds of industries introduced, and the Committee expects that only industries which do not have adverse effects on conservation will be allowed. The Committee believes that the Government, in considering the Sweetland report, should give special attention to de­

velopment of the tourist industry, and to the possibility of establishing a centre to con­ duct scientific research into the terrestrial and marine environment. The Government should respond as soon as possible to the Sweetland report.

Gerry Jones Senator for Queensland Chairman

October 1983







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In the terms of biological taxonomy, Sula abbotti is a species of the genus Sulidae (which includes all boobies and gannets) in the Pelecaniform Order of Birds (Aves) . The Pelecaniform Order comprises the pelicans (Pelecanidae, 7 species) , frigate birds (Fregatidae, 5 species), tropic birds (Phaethontidae, 3 species), anhingas (Anhingidae,

2 species), cormorants (Phalacrocoracidae, 29 species), boobies and gannets (Sulidae, 7 species). The Pelecaniformes therefore number 5 genera with 53 species, and are world-wide in distribution. Other Pelecaniformes dwelling on Christmas Island are: the Golden Bosun, or White­

tailed Tropic bird (Phaethon lepturus fulvus); the Silver Bosun, or Red-tailed Tropic bird ( Phaethon rubricauda westralis); the Red-footed Booby (Sui a sula); the Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster); the Greater Frigate bird (Fregata minor); and the Christmas Island Frigate bird, or Simbang (Fregata andrewsi) .

All Pelecamformes feed on fish, each genus with its peculiar style: diving from the sur­ face (cormorants); splash-plunging (pelicans); plunging with complete immersion (bosun or tropic birds); deep plunging (gannets and boobies); and picking from the sur­ face or stealing from other birds (frigates). Many nest in colonies (the Golden Bosun being one exception), of variable sizes, close to water. The largest colonies, of many

millions, are formed by guanay cormorants. Nesting sites are highly variable: on ledges or in holes in cliffs; on the ground; in holes in trees or in branches of trees; and in bushes. Nests may be substantial (two sulids and some cormorants construct nests entirely of excreta), or virtually absent (some sulids and tropic birds) . Clutch size is usually 2- 4 in

the case of pelicans; 3- 6 in cormorants and anhingas; always 1 in frigates and tropic birds; 1- 4 (usually I or 2) in sulids. The breeding duration is protracted and, in the case of some sulids and all frigate birds, more than a year.







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0 2 3 4 5 Gr.m

1 Field 22A and Smithson's Bight Terraces 2 North Coast Terraces

3 East Coa st Terraces (e

7 West ern ArP.o Plateau (e


List of bird species found at Christmas Island

by G .F . van Tets Division of Wildlife Research CSIRO The birds of Christmas Island fall into three categories: Residents which breed there;

Waders which are shorebirds that breed in northern Asia, Alaska or Australia and seek refuge on the Island during northern frosts and southern droughts; Vagrants comprising a large variety of stray birds which are only occasionally sighted on the Island and which are blown in by prevailing winds during the wet summer,

mainly from Java and Sumatra, and during the dry winter, mainly from Australia.

Residents White-tailed Tropicbird, Phaethon lepturus: Nests in tree cavities dispersed all over the Island. Only on Christmas Island do most of the adults have a golden sheen which gives rise to the local name of 'Golden Bosunbird'. It could be threatened by large scale destruction of the jungle.

Red-tailed Tropicbird, Phaethon rubricauda: Nests in cliff cavities around the Island. Adults do not have a pink sheen as on Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands. Locally it is known as the 'Silver Bosunbird'. Poaching is the only threat to its survival.

Abbott's Booby, Sula abbotti: Nests on the central part of the Island in tall trees with open crowns. On the perimeter of the Island crowns of trees are too dense because of wind-pruning. Christmas Island is its last surviving breeding colony. It may be threatened by large scale destruction of the


Red-footed Booby, Sui a sula: Nests in trees on the shore terraces and cliff sides around the Island. Many juveniles are taken by poachers, but otherwise there is no immediate threat to its survival.

Brown Booby, Sui a leucogaster: Nests on cliff ledges and edges around the Island. Many juveniles and some adults are taken by poachers, but otherwise there is no immediate threat to its survival.

Christmas Island Frigatebird, Fregata andrewsi: Nests in small colonies in trees on the shore terraces around the Island. Some are killed when they hit electric lines near pools of water and many are killed by poachers. This species could become extinct because of poaching. It is known to breed only on Christ­

mas Island.

Greater Frigatebird, Fregata minor: Nests in small colonies in trees on the shore terraces around the Island. Some are kileld when they hit electric lines near pools of water and many are killed by poachers. This species could be wiped out locally by poaching.


Reef Heron, Egretta sacra: Nests in isolated localities along the shore. Forages along the shore and inland in clear­ ings and along tracks. Although numbers are small there is no immediate threat to its survival.

Brown Goshawk, Accipiter fasciatus: Rarely seen. It has been severely persecuted by persons who keep poultry but it is now protected by law and its chances for survival are probably better than they have been in the past. It may also benefit from the diversification of habitat due to clearing and re­ generation of the forest.

Nankeen Kestrel, Falco cenchroides: It is very abundant along edges of roads and clearings. As more of the Island is cleared for mining and other activities it is likely to increse in numbers. It will probably de­ crease in numbers when the Island is reforested after the completion of mining. It is the only bird not protected by law, because of a mistaken belief that it feeds on young chickens. Its main food is grasshoppers.

Noddy, Anous sto/idus: Nests in trees and on cliff ledges along the coast. Large numbers are taken by poachers and it could be locally wiped out by poaching.

Island Imperial Pigeon, Ducu/a whartoni: Lives in the top story of the jungle and is more often heard than seen. It was formerly threatened by shooting and poaching. The main threat to its survival is clearing of rainforest.

Island Owl, Ninox squamipi/a: It is frequently heard at night around the settlement but it is seldom seen. There is prob­ ably no immediate threat to its survival.

Glossy Swiftlet, Co//oca/ia esculenta: Nests and roosts in vast numbers in caves. It feeds along roads and in clearings. There is no immediate threat to its survival.

Green-winged Pigeon, Cha/cophaps indica: Feeds on fallen leaves and fruits. Two chicks are raised, the juveniles free-flying about five weeks after the eggs are laid. It was formerly threatened by poaching. The main threat to its survival is clearing of rainforests.

Island Thrush, Turdus po/iocepha/us: It is very abundant in all vegetated areas including jungle, overgrown clearings, road sides and gardens. There is no immediate threat to its survival. It could suffer if other species of thrushes are introducd or if pigs are allowed to go feral and spoil their habitat.

The use of insecticides in gardens may cause many deaths.

Christmas Island Silvereye, Zosterops nata/is: It is very abundant in all vegetated areas including jungle, overgrown clearings, road sides and gardens. There is no immediate threat to its survival, although the use of in­ secticides in some gardens may cause many deaths.

Java Sparrow, Padda oryzivora: Occurs in small flocks confined to the vicinity of chicken runs. If grasses with large seeds are sown on the airfield, it may rapidly increase in numbers. It is the only introduced cage bird that has established a feral population. It may decline in numbers

if poultry-raising is discontinued.


Waders Masked Plover, Vanel/us miles: A rare visitor from northern Australia. It frequents beaches, ponds, clearings and grassy fields.

Eastern Golden Plover, Pluvialis dominica: A regular migrant from north-eastern Siberia and northern North America. It fre­ quents clearings and grassy fields .

Mongolian Dotterel, Charadrius mongo/us: A regular migrant from central and eastern Asia. It frequents clearings with fiat open ground. Large Dotterel, Charadrius veredus:

A rare migrant from central Asia. It frequents clearings with fiat open ground. Ruddy Turnstone, Arenaria interpres: A regular migrant from the arctic shores of Eurasia and North America. It frequents rocky shores and clearings. Pintail Snipe, Capella stenura:

A reguiar migrant from northern Asia. It frequents wet grassy clearings. Whimbrel, Numenius phacopus: A regular migrant from north-eastern Siberia. It frequents rocky shores, beaches and clearings.

Redshank, Tringa tot anus: A regular migrant from Europe and central Asia. It frequents beaches and ponds. Greenshank, Tringa nebularia: A regular migrant from northern Eurasia. It frequents beaches and the edges of ponds

and pools of rain water. Common Sandpiper, Tringa hypoleucos: A regular migrant from northern Eurasia. It frequents the edges of still and running water including pools of rain water and sea shores.

Wood Sandpiper, Gringa glareola: A rare migrant from northern Eurasia. It frequents grassy and muddy edges of ponds and pools of rain water. Grey-tailed Tattler, Tringa brevipes:

A rare migrant from the mountains of eastern Siberia. It frequents rocky shores and reefs. Red-necked Stint, Calidris ruficollis: A regular migrant from north-eastern Siberia and western Alaska. It frequents beaches and bare fiat clearings.

Long-toed Stint, Calidris subminuta: A rare migrant from eastern Siberia. It frequents beaches and the muddy edges of ponds and rainwater pools. Bar-tailed Godwit, Limosa lapponica:

A regular migrant from the arctic regions of Eurasia and Alaska. It frequents beaches and clearings. Pratincole, Glareola pratincola: A rare migrant from Asia. It roosts on bare fiat open ground and forages on the wing on

the edges of tropical cyclones.


Australian Courser, Stiltia isabella: A rare visitor from inland Australia. It frequents flat open clearings.

Vagrants White-faced Heron, Ardea novaehollandiae: A rare visitor from Australia. White Egret, Egretta alba: A rare visitor from either Asia or Australia.

Plumed Egret, Egretta intermedia: A rare visitor from either Asia or Australia. Little Egret, Egretta garzetta nigripes: A rare visitor from Australia. Chinese Egret, Egretta eulophotes: A rare visitor from eastern China.

Nankeen Night-Heron, Nycticorax caledonicus: A rare visitor from Australia. Mangrove Heron, Butorides striatus amurensis: A rare visitor from Asia. Black Bittern, Dupetor flavicollis: An adult male was seen at Ross Hill Gardens 25 September 1972. It could have come from either Asia or Australia. Grey Teal, Anas gibberifrons:

A rare visitor from either Indonesia or Australia. White-breasted Sea-Eagle, Haliaeetus leucogaster: An immature was seen 29 September 1972 with D. Powell who said it was first seen October 1971.

Peregrine, Falco peregrinus: A rare visitor from either Asia or Australia. Ruddy Crake, Prozanafusca: A rare visitor from Asia . Water-cock, Gallicrex cinerea: A number were first seen December 1972 and were still present January 1973. Pied Imperial Pigeon, Ducula bicolor: A rare visitor from Indonesia. Horsfield Bronze-Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx basalis: A rare visitor from Australia or Indonesia. Mangrove Kingfisher, Halcyon chloris: A rare visitor from either Asia or Australia. Dollar-bird, Eurystomus orienta/is: A rare visitor from either Asia or Australia. Blue-winged Pitta, Pitta moluccensis: A rare visitor from Asia. Barn Swallow, Hirundo rustica: A regular visitor between September and November from Asia. Grey Wagtail, Motacilla cinerea:

A rare visitor from Asia.


Yellow Wagtail, Motacillajiava: A rare visitor from Asia . Tawny Pipit, Anthus campestris: A rare visitor from Asia.

Brown Shrike, Lanius cristatus: A rare visitor from Asia.



Written submissions

Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service Total Environment Centre, Sydney Royal Australian Ornithologists Union,

Victoria Department of Home Affairs and Environ-ment Australian Conservation Foundation Department of Administrative Services Professor J.M. Cullen, Monash University The Fund for Animals Ltd. (Australia)

Nature Conservation Council ofN.S.W. The International Council for Bird Preser-vation

Union of Christmas Island Workers Dr J.B. Nelson, Aberdeen University, Scotland


Submission No.














Burgin, Ms S.M., Project Officer, Total Environment Centre, Sydney, N .S.W. Cullen, Professor J.M., Department of Zoology, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria Cullen, Mr Peter, Consultant, Union of Christmas Island Workers, Canberra, A.C.T.

Dunphy, Mr M., Director, Total Environment Centre, Sydney, N.S.W. Flynn, Mr J .M., Grants, Authorities and General Branch, Department of Administrat­ ive Services, Canberra, A.C.T. Forshaw, Mr J.M., Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service, Canberra, A.C.T.

Hill, Mr M.A., Assistant Director, Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service, Canberra, A.C.T. Houston, Mr M.L., General Manager, The Phosphate Mining Company of Christmas Island Ltd., Christmas Island

Hunt, Mr J .G., Christmas Island Section, Department of Home Affairs and Environ­ ment, Canberra, A.C.T. Kennedy, Mr M.G., Campaign Director, The Fund For Animals Ltd. Australia, Syd­ ney, N.S.W.

Lenihan, Mr D.M., First Assistant Secretary, Secretariat and Policy Division, Depart­ ment of Administrative Services, Canberra, A.C.T. Mawhinney, Mr V.H., Acting Director, Christmas Island Section, Department of Home Affairs and Environment, Canberra, A.C.T.

Mosley, Dr J.G., Director, Australian Conservation Foundation, Melbourne, Vic. Paterson, Mr T.F., First Assistant Secretary, Territories, Co-ordination and Manage­ ment Division, Department of Home Affairs and Environment, Canberra, A.C.T. Pincus, Ms G., Director, Legislation and Law Reform Branch, Department of Home

Affairs and Environment, Canberra, A.C.T.



Organisations and their representatives who assisted the Committee during its field visit to Christmas Island, 9-12 July 1983

Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service (ANPWS): Mr Tony Stokes- Government Conservator Dr Barry Reville- Leader, Abbott's Booby Monitoring Program Mr Jeffery Tranter- Abbott's Booby Monitoring Program Chinese Literary Association: Mr Soh Tuck Seng- Vice President Mr Lim Seong Khim- Secretary Mr Mah Toon Cheong- Treasurer Mr Lawrence Koh - Auditor Mr Yeoh Cheok Meng- Club Superintendent Mr Peter Chia- Committee Member Mr Lai Chee Mun- Committee Member Christmas Island Administration: His Honour the Administrator, Mr William Yates

Mr Michael Jopling- Offi cial Secretary Mr Robert Hillson- Resettle ment Officer Malay Community: Mr Haji Ibrahim- Headman Malay Community Mr Syed Aljunied- General Secretary Malay Club Association Mr Sulaiman Ahmed- Treasurer Malay Club Association Phosphate Mining Company of Christmas Island (PMCI): Mr M.L. Houston- General Manager Mr W.S. Padgett- Assistant General Manager Mr Peter Barrett- Superintendent, Mine Planning Mr Neville Brown- Production Manager Mr David A. Powell, MBE- Company Conservation Officer

Union of Christmas Island Workers (UCIW) Mr Cheng Hang- Presi dent Mr Shamsudin Pendek- Vice President Mr George Woodford- Vice President Mr Gordon Bennett- General Secretary




Australia. Department of Administrative Services. Christmas Island: Environment and Conservation. Report from the Environment Reconnaissance Team. August 1976. Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service, Annual Report 1980- 81, A.G.P.S., Canberra, 1981.

Department of Home Affairs and Environment, Christmas Island Annual Report, 1980-81,A.G.P.S.,Canberra 1981. Department of Home Affairs and Environment, Inquiry into the long-term future of Christmas Island, A.G .P.S ., Canberra 1982. Gray, H . Christmas Island- Naturally, Creative Research and Artype, Perth,

Australia, 19 81. House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment and Conservation, Conservation of Endangered Species on Christmas Island, Government Printer of Australia, Canberra, 1976.

Nelson, J.B., The Sulidae-Gannets and Boobies, Oxford University Press, London, 1978. Phosphate Mining Company of Christmas Island, Annual Report /981/82. Sweetland, W.W., Inquiry into the viability of the Christmas Island Phosphate Indu­ stry, A.G.P.S., Canberra, 1980.

Timbs, M.C., The Phosphate Industry in Australia. Past, Present and Future. Address by Mr M.C. Timbs to the National Rural Press Club, March 1980. Waters, L., The Union of Christmas Island Workers, George Allen & Unwin Australia Pty Ltd, Sydney, Australia, 1983.


10 25 'S


Egeria Point


Built-up Area _______________

Principal road : cutting ____________ .......,_

Secondary Road ; embankment ____ --

Railway : single track._ •• _._ •••••• +-+--+

multiple track -----------+--+--it

Quarry -- - - -----------------------\::;)

Building ____________________________ ,

Oil tank or silo ____________________ ___ •

Cava ____ ___________________________ o

Radio Mast_ _. __ • ________ ___ _________ .

Conlrol point__ ______________________ &

Spring ; waiL ........ . ----------...•

Spot height (melraa) ________________ .1 92

Contour (melrea) •• --•• -------.--- 11

Depression contour .•••••••••••••.

Rain forest •• ___ ••••••••••••• ----Secondary growth; scrub • • ••••.••

105 35 'E


SCA LE 1 : 50 000


Projection: Universal Transverse Mercator. Spheroid: Australian National.


Datum: Satellite fix determined by US S Banlen. September 1971 . Produced by the Division of National Mapping, Canberra. 1978 w ith minor amendments . Original compilations by Mr M. Ost. 1972.

Printed by C.J.Thompson. Commonwealth Government Printer. 1978.

of Australia, 1978. NMP/ 77/ 052

105 35 'E



105 40'E

South Point

105 40'E




•• / - •• LO ALITY MAP .)[' .o,. C:::::.::;f c::> oP a . INDONESIA •'lJt .... . CHRISTMAS <0 V ISLAND - "" .Cocos Is OCEAN 'M-mo/ ( WESTERN ; AUSTRA LIA INDIAN AUSTRALIA. CHRISTMAS ISLAND

10 25 'S

10 30'S