Home > Tasmanian open cut mine may be safe haven for Tasmanian devils

Tasmanian open cut mine may be safe haven for Tasmanian devils

Editorial
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A mining workshop has heard how open cut mines are providing places of refuge for endangered Tasmanian Devils.

Speaking at conference last week, biologist Nick Mooney and Tasmanian Minerals and Energy Council head Jeremy Kuow outlined how mining tenements can actually become refuges for endangered species, according to Tasmania's Mercury.

They explained how the sites, which are mostly free of feral animals, have low speed limits, extensive bushland, and undisturbed habitat, coupled with active population monitoring, can provide a safe haven.

The slow road traffic is a major factor, as it is understood that between 2001-04 approximately 3.8 to 5.7 per cent of the total devil population were being in road incidents killed annually.

Mooney and Kuow added that generally the mine itself, which may provide a danger, typically only takes up around one per cent of the total land area.

According to studies carried out at Grange Resources' Savage River mine there were approximately one devil every two square kilometres.

Mooney told the conference that miners and the devils could co-exist, The Mercury reported.

"In these sort of areas there are just a few devils covering a lot of ground and the bush on the leases surrounding the mine workings can provide a refuge,” Mooney said.

“Yes, they have dug a great big hole in the middle of devil habitat but there is a lot of habitat to share.”

He went on to say that issues over conservation, such as those seen over Venture Minerals' Riley Creek project, were 'overblown'.

“In these sort of areas there are just a few devils covering a lot of ground and the bush on the leases surrounding the mine workings can provide a refuge,” he said.

“Yes, they have dug a great big hole in the middle of devil habitat but there is a lot of habitat to share.”

According to reports by Tasmania's EPA, in the case of the Riley mine only five devils would have been affected by the mine itself.

The mine, which has since been suspended due to poor iron ore market conditions, have previously stated that it is a partner with the Save the Tasmanian Devil program, and that all employees of Venture Minerals have become volunteer Devil Facial Tumour Disease monitors, and also remove waste and roadkill from road verges to help prevent motor vehicle Devil fatalities.

BHP has also waded into protection in Tasmania, launching the Tasmanian Conservation Project earlier this year.

The miner has pledged $13.4 million for conservation and ongoing management of around 11 000 hectares of land in Tasmania.

The land, near Cradle Mountain and Lake St. Clair includes old growth forests, wild rivers, and alpine wetlands, BHP said.

The conservation area is habitat to a number of endangered species such as the Tasmanian Devil, Tasmanian Wedge Tailed Eagle, spotted tail Quoll, and Miena cider gum

Shree Minerals also carried out contribution efforts, raising $350 000 for conservation of devils. 

The operation also had conditions for operation, that included $48 000 in fines for any devil killed if more than two were killed in a 12 month period.

Kuow told the conference that as the mining industry as worked with devil experts it has developed a greater understanding of how to work to minimise disruption the the devils' habitat and cycles.

“As an industry we are keen to understand the science and minimise the impact on environment we are operating in and demonstrate that in a practical way,” Kouw said.

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