By Ruth Ratcliffe
BRISBANE — Around 60 people gathered at Dunwich on Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah) on March 26 to protest against sand mining on land of great environmental and cultural significance.
The group marched to one of the mines at the beginning of the restricted access road chanting "Sandmining sucks — the life out of Straddie". Donna Ruska of the local Koenpil-Nunukal people welcomed the protesters, most of whom had come from Brisbane, although there was significant representation from the local Aboriginal community. She emphasised that most Aboriginal people on the island opposed the mining.
Frances Herbert from the Queensland Conservation Council described the environmental disasters caused by sand mining including a huge sand slip into Moreton Bay, a diesel spill, the permanent lowering of two fresh water lakes and uncontrolled seepage from one of the mines.
Drew Hutton from the Queensland Greens recalled earlier struggles to stop sand mining on Fraser and Moreton Islands and on the mainland, noting that lobbying and letter-writing campaigns had achieved very little.
Ann Ferguson of the Stradbroke Island Action Coalition said the mining company, Consolidated Rutile Limited (CRL), had been served a "show cause notice" by the government in response to repeated environmental "accidents". The response? A list of environmental studies that the company acknowledges should be undertaken but has so far failed to do and an increased security deposit of $3.5 million.
CRL's operations in Sierra Leone are guarded by mercenaries from Executive Outcomes.
The coalition is demanding that all sand mining on the island be phased out. It has proposed an immediate moratorium on mining pending detailed environmental and cultural heritage studies, the restricted re-mining of old sites, the elimination of any new mines and a transitional employment program for the 260 employees.
The Stradbroke Island Action Coalition can be contacted at PO Box 989, Toowong, Qld 4066.