Monday 4 July 2011
Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission expressed its concerns about the environmental impact of nickel ore mining on an immensely significant marine ecosystem in the Indonesian province of West Papua. The ore is shipped by Australian company, Queensland Nickel, for refining in Australia.
Queensland mining billionaire, Clive Palmer, heads Queensland Nickel.
Reports in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Age on the weekend suggested that the mining of the nickel laterite used by Queensland Nickel is threatening the health of Raja Ampat, an immensely significant marine ecosystem which is home to over 600 islands, expansive coral reefs and countless fish species.
The Justice and Peace Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that Queensland Nickel should urgently investigate the environmental impact of nickel mining in Raja Ampat and the Australian Government should encourage the company to do so.
“Raja Ampat is an extraordinarily beautiful and important ecosystem which the reports indicate is being seriously damaged by clay soil being washed into the sea and onto the reefs as the mining process strips ore from islands in the region,” Mr Arndt said.
“Australian companies ought not to be involved or benefit, either directly or indirectly, from overseas mining operations which cause environmental havoc,” he said.
“Queensland Nickel says that it is committed to sustainable development and minimising environmental damage and we hope this means they will look into these reports urgently to ensure that their nickel ore suppliers are doing the right thing for the sake of this precious ecosystem,” he said.
“The report also indicates there may be corruption involved in the granting of mining licences in the area and squabbles within the local community as a result of the competing bids of various mining companies,” he said.
“West Papua is a troubled province which has been a concern for the Commission for some years,” he said.
“It is plagued by conflict, human rights abuses by the Indonesian security forces, corruption and exploitation of the local tribal groups and the environment,” he said.
“There is nothing wrong with Queensland Nickel making a profit, but it needs to ensure that the rights of the local people and the security of the important ecosystem of Raja Ampat are fully protected in the process,” he said.
“We would also urge the Australian Government to assist Queensland Nickel to ensure that its overseas suppliers are looking after the interests of the people of West Papua and of the local environment,” he said.
“We would encourage Catholics to take an interest in such matters not only because they involve the welfare of our fellow human beings, but because caring for the earth is an essential part of living our Christian faith,” he said.
For further information, please contact Peter Arndt on (07) 3336 9173 or 0409 265 476.