Best knowledge on mining impacts needed

15 September 2012 | Audio

Two motions related to mining, proposed by Oceania Members of IUCN, were approved this morning by the Members' Assembly.

Sea bed mining

Mining has been at the centre of debate for many conservationists here at the Congress. This morning a motion was passed by the Congress on the protection of deep-ocean ecosystems and biodiversity from the threats of sea bed mining. This motion was proposed by the Te Ipukarea Society of Cook Islands and Agence des Aires Marines Protégées and 20 co-sponsors.

IUCN spoke to Teina Mackenzie of Te Ipukarea Society on why this motion was put forward.

What is the way forward on this motion?

This motion also calls on IUCN to develop specialist groups and knowledge on the impacts of seabed exploration or mining activities. It also recommends that indigenous and local people are able to participate effectively in decisions that have an impact on ocean biodiversity and ocean ecosystems which may affect their rights and interests as custodians over their territories.

Mining and gas expansion

Also approved, a motion encouraging the Australian Government to undertake strategic assessments on the impacts of mining and gas expansion in areas protected under national environmental law.

The motion noted the commitments that the Australian Government has made to the international community to protect, conserve and present World Heritage sites within its territory and that national environmental law provides an important mechanism for the protection of threatened and migratory species, internationally-significant wetlands and World Heritage areas like the Great Barrier Reef.

But there are also concerns by environmental NGOs on the potentially significant environmental risks posed by the expansion of mining and gas activities in Australia, including coal mining and coal seam gas extraction. 

Amongst other recommendations the motion encourages the Australian Government to continue to implement measures aimed at improving the scientific basis and transparency of decision-making for coal seam gas and large scale coal mining developments, including through the work of the Independent Scientific Committee on coal seam gas and large coal mining.

The motion was proposed by the Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales and six co-sponsors including the Te Ipukarea Society.