The magnificent Mitchell Plateau will be included in a new Kimberley National Park, thanks to an historic agreement between the State Government, Rio Tinto and Alcoa of Australia.
Premier and State Development Minister Colin Barnett today announced he would introduce legislation to State Parliament to terminate a State Agreement for the development of an alumina refinery and bauxite mine in the Mitchell Plateau region of the Kimberley.
“The Mitchell Plateau and the Mitchell Falls are spectacular and unique landscapes in Australia and will be the jewels in the crown of the new Kimberley National Park,” the Premier said.
“I am delighted that thanks to this agreement, this extraordinary landscape will now be conserved.”
Mr Barnett said the termination of the Alumina Refinery (Mitchell Plateau) Agreement 1971 would allow more than 175,000 hectares of land on the Mitchell Plateau to be included in the proposed Kimberley National Park, which would extend over more than two million hectares and be surrounded on its coastal boundary by new marine parks.
“This new national park will encompass the existing Prince Regent, Mitchell River and Lawley River national parks and will become Australia’s biggest national park,” he said.
“The creation of a Kimberley National Park was a commitment of the State Government before the 2013 election and, along with five new marine parks, is a key component of our $81.5 million Kimberley Science and Conservation Strategy. Terminating this long-standing legislation is an important milestone.
“I would like to extend Western Australia’s sincere thanks to the proponents Rio Tinto and Alcoa for their close and co-operative work with Government, and for their efforts to aid conservation of the Kimberley.”
The State Agreement was intended to facilitate the development of bauxite mining and an alumina refinery on the Mitchell Plateau, when economic conditions were favourable.
Environment Minister Albert Jacob said the State Government’s Kimberley Science and Conservation Strategy was delivering more resources for the protection of the Kimberley than ever before.
“The strategy involves the creation of almost five million hectares of interconnected marine and national parks across the Kimberley, which will support the delivery of research and on ground conservation work to protect the region’s unique plants and animals,” Mr Jacob said.
“This is also generating employment opportunities for Aboriginal communities and supporting environmentally sensitive nature-based tourism.”
The State Government will continue to work with the traditional owners in the area, the Dambimangari, Wunambal-Gaambera and Wilinggin, to create and jointly manage the proposed Kimberley National Park.
The Mitchell Plateau State Agreement covers a temporary reserve of about 175,900 hectares for the establishment of an alumina refinery, the protection of the area’s bauxite resources and fourteen mining leases
Mitchell Plateau Joint Venture has agreed to contribute approximately $750,000 to complete rehabilitation associated with relatively minor past exploration
The termination legislation will also prevent the making or granting of any mining or exploration tenement applications over the Mitchell Plateau area until the area has become a Class A National Park. The Government has also acted to protect adjacent areas from mining tenement applications through the creation of an exemption under section 19 of the Mining Act 1978