A series of community information sessions in Jarrahdale run by mining giant Alcoa were met with opposition when the Jarrahdale Forest Protectors, joined by environmentalists from as far south as Mandurah, set up a marquee just outside to “present the other side”.
The group of environmentalists, including members of the Peel Environmental People Association and the Dwellingup Discovery Forest Defenders, set up shop and handed out flyers throughout the afternoon.
“We’re here today to present the case for no mining in our water catchment zones,” Jackie Dines, a Jarrahdale resident of more than 20 years and a member of the Jarrahdale Forest Protectors, said.
“North of the Serpentine Dam is the highest priority water catchment – you’re talking about Perth’s water.
“This is the last, really precious forest around Jarrahdale. The quality of the forest here is comparable to those in the south west of Tasmania.
“We’re not allowed in the area because it’s a water catchment; no walking, no hiking, no camping.
“Alcoa is allowed to go in but we aren’t allowed to even walk.”
Recent reports have highlighted concerns that sediment runoff from cleared areas could contaminate water in the Serpentine Dam for months or even years, potentially rendering it undrinkable.
Alcoa’s 2023 – 2027 mine plan, which, according to the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation remains under review, includes 1500 hectares in close proximity to the dam.
However, at Wednesday’s information session, attended by about 35 people, Alcoa outlined steps it said would be taken to protect the Jarrahdale townsite.
“Alcoa will remove about 1,000 hectares of clearing from its proposed next bauxite mining area and move further away from the Jarrahdale townsite to reduce potential environmental and social impacts,” a spokesperson said.
“The company is committing to a Mining Avoidance Zone within its proposed Myra North mining area that among other things will increase the distance to the Jarrahdale townsite from about 1.4 kilometre to 5.3 kilometres.”
On February 28, the WA Forest Alliance referred Alcoa’s mine plans to the EPA for a full environmental assessment.