While many know about the gas hub proposed north of Broome there
are plans for equally damaging coal and uranium mines inland.
Extensive coal and uranium tenements are being explored by Australia's Rey Resourcesin the West Kimberley. These proposed coal and uranium mines are on the traditional lands of the Nyikina-Mangala people adjacent to the Fitzroy River.The river is sacred and culturally significant to a number of traditional owners groups.
Rey Resources plans to establish large-scale coal mining operations in the area and in May 2009 announced their intention to commence pre-feasibility studies for development of the estimated 500 million tonne (Mt) Duchess- Paradise coal reserves in the Canning basin (see map).
Recently Rey Resources also entered into a joint venture partnership with UraniumExploration Australia to confirm the extent of uranium resources at their Myroodahtenements which straddle the Fitzroy river. Rey Resources propose to export 2 Mt per annum of thermal coal to India through the existing port in Derby. However a proposed coal terminal at Point Torment wouldenable exports to rise to 6 Mtpa in the medium term and 10Mtpa in the longer term. Rey Resources propose to mine the coal using both open cut surface mining and high wall mining (see image above). If allowed to proceed this mine would displace hundreds of millions of tonnes of soil and waste rock.
Even if the company backfills the open cut pits with waste rock, the potential for landscape collapse and alteration to groundwater flow patterns will still exist.
Water extraction from the Fitzroy river is likely to skyrocket because coal mines are a massive user of water. Add to this the increase in dust, pollution, noise, and traffic along the Great Western highway, and the impact will be felt across the Kimberley region.