Burra Monster Mine Reserve

01 Jul 2010 questionsarchive

I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Mineral Resources Development a question about the historic Monster Mine at Burra.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: As honourable members would be aware, Phoenix Copper has applied to lift the Monster Mine Reserve. The public consultation process was extended from 25 June to Thursday 8 July. I have been contacted by a constituent, who is a local resident there, and he has made some allegations. His email states:

In the last few days, a matter of some concern has come to my attention. Phoenix has already been conducting exploration in the Mine Reserve.

In their 2009 Annual Report...Figure 7 on page 14 clearly shows that they have carried out extensive geochemical exploration within the Reserve area, and within 400 metres of dwellings without notifying landowners.

Our house is within that zone, and neither we nor our neighbours have been approached by Phoenix. The data points on the map are not based on old data. Phoenix make it clear that they are from geochemical analyses that they conducted themselves in the 2008-2009 year.

He then goes on:

Additionally, Phoenix have been conducting geochemical exploration in the north-east section of the reserve, less than 150 metres from the town reservoir. Anecdotally, I have also had reports of relatively fresh drill holes to the north-west of the pit, within the reserve. There are two data points on the Annual Report map that correspond to the area where these holes supposedly are, but this area is not typically accessible to the public and I have not been able to verify their existence.

My questions are:

1. Is the minister aware of whether Phoenix Copper has indeed breached the Mining Act; and, if so, what action does he intend to take?

2. Can the minister advise whether any representative from his office or from the department will be attending the meeting on Monday night at the regional council of Gawler?

The Hon. P. HOLLOWAY (Minister for Mineral Resources Development, Minister for Urban Development and Planning, Minister for Industrial Relations, Minister Assisting the Premier in Public Sector Management) (14:27): That is the first I have heard of the allegations. I have received a large number of letters in relation to this matter, and I have not read them all. I know that we have had a significant amount of correspondence, but I would certainly be very surprised if there has been any breach of the Mining Act by Phoenix Copper. They are well aware of the conditions that apply. When they applied, through the proper channels, to have the reserve over the area lifted, they certainly would have been made well aware of the requirements under they Mining Act. However, I will investigate that matter.

In relation to a public meeting next week, I had not intended to attend that meeting. Normally, when we have public meetings under DPAC and the like, I believe it is best that they are not turned into political meetings. After all, it is all about assessing that information. Clearly, I have to look at all the facts. What happens on occasions, certainly under the Development Act, is that departmental officials provide basic information. However, generally speaking, as the umpire, if you like, in relation to these matters, the role of the government should be to clarify the position rather than be involved in the debate itself. I will see what further information I can provide and relay that to the honourable member.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (14:29): Can the minister confirm whether anybody from PIRSA minerals will be attending?

The Hon. P. HOLLOWAY (Minister for Mineral Resources Development, Minister for Urban Development and Planning, Minister for Industrial Relations, Minister Assisting the Premier in Public Sector Management) (14:29): I thought I answered that by saying that normally the role of departmental officials in meetings such as this is to, at best, observe and, if necessary, provide information; but it is not normally the role of departmental people to be involved actively in the debate for or against this particular proposal. I will see whether the department intends to send anyone as an observer or to provide information in relation to that particular meeting. It is normal that a public meeting is held. I am not certain whether Monday's meeting is part of the statutory process or whether it is one that has been called by the community.

An honourable member interjecting:

The Hon. P. HOLLOWAY: Well, in that case, it is obviously not the formal one, but I guess whether the department official goes would depend on the nature of the meeting and whether they were invited, and what their assessment was. As I said, it is normally the role of the department to provide advice rather than become directly involved in the debate, because they will ultimately make the recommendation to the minister in relation to what action should be taken.

The Hon. R.P. Wortley MLC: "The Minister for Mineral Resources is advised that:

There have been no breaches f the Mining Act by Phoenix Copper"