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If you take our self drive tour you will see a healthy forest and bio-diversity hotspot, currently under threat from bauxite mining.
A unique environment on Perth’s WA doorstep.
Jarrahdale Forest Protectors thank you for taking the time to come and see the only Jarrah Forest in the world for yourself.
Below is some information and statistics that tell some of the story.
Alcoa of Australia Limited is a foreign-owned US company. The parent company is listed on the NYSE. It derives some of it’s revenue from mining, exporting, and refining bauxite into alumina and aluminium.
Each year Alcoa mines approximately 34 million dry metric tonnes of bauxite, refines approximately 9.5 million tonnes of alumina and produces approximately 300 thousand tonnes of aluminium. Equating approximately to 4:1 of raw bauxite to alumina and a 113:1 ratio to aluminium for the production of an end-user product.
As recently as 2016 Alcoa began its first shipment of exported bauxite with 92,315 tonnes exported in the first year exponentially increasing to 2,088,727 tonnes in 2020 (a whopping 2,000% increase). Totalling 5.7million tonnes of bauxite exported to date.
A clear correlation can be seen between these enormous figures and satellite images of the WA Jarrah Forest, showing the clearing taken place over this 5 year period.
To achieve such an exponential increase in raw bauxite export…… a devastating 18,122 acres (7,334ha) of our precious Jarrah forest was cleared between 2015 and 2019 averaging 3,624 acres per year!!
The total mined area from 1963 up to December 2019, including Jarrahdale, Huntly and Willowdale mines – is a mind-blowing 65,015 acres (26 311 ha).
With an expansion proposal for an additional 21,500 acres (8700 ha) of prime forest to be mined near the townships of Jarrahdale and Dwellingup starting in 2025.
Currently, Alcoa has the right under the Alumina Refinery Agreement Act 1961 to request permission from the State to export bauxite from their existing mining lease ML1SA. and currently permitted to export up to 2.5 Mtpa (million tonnes per annum) of bauxite to December 2021, pursuant to approval by the Minister for State Development under S9(8) of the Alumina Refinery Agreement Act 1961.
Alcoa intends to request an extension to this arrangement at a limit of 2.5 Mtpa (**another ~20,000 acres cleared over the next 5 years) as per the Alcoa Expansion proposal.
Today Alcoa produces almost 45 per cent of Australia’s alumina and approximately 19 per cent of Australia’s aluminium. Our alumina production in Western Australia accounts for only seven per cent (7%) of total world production.
According to the 2020 annual report Alcoa aims to grow its third-party bauxite sales business. In December 2016, the Government of Western Australia granted permission to Alcoa’s majority-owned subsidiary, AofA, to export up to 2.5 million dry metric tonnes per year of bauxite for five years to third-party customers.
Supply to third-party customers beyond 2021 will require approval from the Government of Western Australia. The primary customer base for third-party bauxite is located in Asia, particularly in China.
The fixed-rate system applies generally to low value, bulk minerals. The royalty is calculated by applying a rate to each tonne produced. In Western Australia, two rates apply currently: 62 cents and $1.00 per tonne.
The company employs approximately 4,300 people, across two states Victoria and Western Australia, (~only 1.1% of the total employment population across both states according to 2016 ABS)
Australia—Darling Range Mines: Huntly and Willowdale are the two active AWAC mines in the Darling Range of Western Australia that supplies bauxite to three local AWAC alumina refineries. They operate within ML1SA, the mineral lease issued by the State of Western Australia to Alcoa’s majority-owned subsidiary, AofA. The ML1SA lease encompasses a gross area of 712,881 hectares (**including private landholdings, state forests, national parks and conservation areas) in the Darling Range and extends from east of Perth to east of Bunbury (ML1SA Area). The ML1SA lease provides AofA with various rights, including certain exclusivity rights to explore for and mine bauxite, rights to deny third party mining tenements in limited circumstances, rights to mining leases for other minerals in the ML1SA Area, and the right to prevent certain
governmental actions from interfering with or prejudicially affecting the rights of AofA. ****The ML1SA lease term extends to 2024 and can be renewed for an additional 21-year period to 2045.
Global Operational Risk for the company according to the financial report indicates, because environmental laws, regulations, policies and other requirements are constantly evolving, we will continue to incur costs to maintain compliance and such costs could increase materially and prove to be more limiting and costly than we anticipate. Evolving standards and expectations can result in increased litigation and/or increased costs, all of which can have a material and adverse effect on our business operations, earnings and cash flows. Future compliance with environmental, health and safety legislation and other regulatory requirements or expectations may prove to be more limiting and costly than we anticipate and may disrupt our business operations and require significant expenditures. Our business, financial condition or results of operations in a particular period could be materially affected by certain health, safety or environmental matters, including remediation costs and damages related to certain sites.
Alcoa claims on rehabilitating the cleared forest.
Alcoa claim to be 100% successful in their rehabilitation of the Jarrah Forest, however, we dispute this claim based on what we can see with own our naked eye. (photo ??)
“In Western Australia, for example, where we mine in the world’s only Jarrah Forest, we first achieved our target of returning 100% species richness to mined areas in 2001 and received the Society for Ecological Restoration International’s Model Project Award”.
Jarrahdale Forest Protectors question their claims and doubts there are adequate habitats and corridors for biodiversity and fauna in these rehabilitated sites. Looking at the vast (up to 2km wide pods – photo??) cleared as part of taking up to several metres of topsoil to extract raw bauxite sometimes leaving only small remnant areas of bush to provide habitat or replacing logs back into the area for the animal’s dependent on the forest to survive, seems impossible.
“Following mining, mine pits are rehabilitated to Jarrah Forest by removing compaction of pit floors, recontouring the surface, returning of gravels and soil, seeding, planting of nursery raised seedlings and fertilising. Coarse woody debris in the form of logs and stumps is also returned as fauna habitat”. (Alcoa 2020 Sustainability report)
According to Alcoa, they are leaders not only in technology for reducing the cost of mining bauxite but in solutions for restoring the land once mining operations are complete. As ‘award-winning’ environmental leaders, their strategy for rehabilitation is to restore the land to a stable condition that will be consistent with the aesthetic, environmental, economic, and social values of the surrounding community.
Jarrahdale Forest Protectors would like to know why they are still using these statistics and award-winning recognition statements received over 20 years ago. when mining was at a much slower pace (export of raw bauxite was only introduced in 2016) and using completely different technology in the mining process?
JFP have been requesting updated data for real quantifiable evidence to ensure 100% species richness is being achieved – we are still waiting on Alcoa to provide the updated information.
Current Mining Extension Proposal.
Currently, Alcoa has a proposal to expand its operations with the Environmental Protection Authority EPA. The assessment will take up to two years (6th October 2022)
The outcome of this assessment will make a recommendation to the State Government on whether to approve this expansion or not see below:-
Alcoa is seeking approval to primarily increase production at the refinery and secondly continue the supply of bauxite for export (the Proposal).
The Proposal comprises the following components.
Increase in alumina production at the Pinjarra Alumina Refinery by 5% from 5.0 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) to 5.25 Mtpa, and an
Increase in the rate of mining within ML1SA to supply up to 2.5 Mtpa of bauxite for export.
The basis for referral Alcoa is referring to the Proposal as a revised proposal to the previous Pinjarra Refinery Efficiency Upgrade, to enable an increase to alumina production and inclusion of 2.5 Mtpa bauxite mining for export.
Alcoa is referring the Proposal to the EPA as a ‘significant proposal’, to facilitate an Environmental Impact Assessment that will inform stakeholders on the longer-term mine planning (2025-2035) and environmental management requirements and facilitate the setting of contemporary approval conditions.