Premier Anna Bligh’s views on North Stradbroke Island

It was great to read of Premier Anna Bligh’s concern for North Stradbroke Island in her recent article published in the Brisbane Times, see Saving my island ‘oasis’ from sand mining.

Climate Change and Sustainability Minister Kate Jones, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and Quandamooka elder Aunty Joan Hendriks at the announcement of the national park zoning on North Stradbroke Island in June.
Photo: Courtney Trenwith

However, despite the heartfelt claim she makes, the Bligh Government has created confusion by stating in various ways that the island’s mineral sand resources could support a thriving island economy for 100 or 200 more years, when this is simply not the case (her Brisbane Times article mentions 100 years, while her 20 June media release said 200 years).

This backs the miners’ emotional, and false, claims that the island will be an economic black hole without them.

The facts:

The truth is that commercial deposits of mineral sands (zircon, rutile and ilmenite), which have been mined for fifty years, will run out by 2027 at the latest.

In May 2009, CRL told the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) that its workforce on the Island would halve once Yarraman closed in 2013. (See extract from letter at left).

If expired leases are renewed to allow Enterprise to be mined out and if the Yarraman dredge were to be moved to Enterprise, the minerals will run out by 2023. No doubt, if permitted, Unimin could speed up the whole process and end it sooner.

What then?:

Local businesses and residents alike need to face up to the facts: mining is coming to an end anyway.

The only other resource legally presently able to be mined is silica sand. The Vance Silica Mine however employs only about 15 people. No-one could legitimately argue that this mine is capable of propping up the economy of the Island.

The future of the Island:

One thing is clear. Mining is not the future for the Island. What are the alternatives? There are a number of alternatives but nature tourism and related service industries are certainly the most obvious.

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