Traditional Owners seek Government Intervention to protect marine areas around Cockatoo Island in WA’s Kimberley..
Cockatoo Island has been effectively abandoned by iron ore miners and the State Government, increasing fears of significant environmental and cultural damage, the island’s Traditional Owners have warned.
The Dambimangari Aboriginal Corporation (DAC) believes the sea wall containing the former mining operation could soon begin releasing sediment into the coral reef around the island.
The group wants the State Government to step in to prevent an environmental catastrophe alongside one of the region’s most important migration routes for humpback whales.
Dambimangari chairperson Rowena Mouda said the island had been managed on an ad hoc basis for three years since the iron ore mine owner Pluton Resources was put into receivership. Dewatering activities stopped late last year and the mining pit is now fully inundated.
Pitcher Partners stepped down as receiver-managers of Pluton last week and removed all staff from the island. A new receiver has been appointed, the third such appointment in as many years.
Mrs Mouda says the DAC is concerned that no-one is taking effective responsibility for the future of the island.
“This place is very important to our communities and Western Australia’s marine environment, but it has been neglected and now deserted by the mine owner,” she said.
“We believe that a major environmental problem is imminent.
“There is no commitment to maintain the mine pit – and no plans to prevent the sea wall from deteriorating and releasing sediment into coral reefs and marine environment,” she said.
Cockatoo Island is adjacent to a proposed Marine Park containing iconic land and seascapes.
The area has extensive largely uncharted coral reefs and significant populations of dugongs, dolphins and whales.
The area is part of a migration route for humpback whales heading north to Lalang-Garram Camden Sound Marine Park to breed.