Gindalbie tenement bid triggers concern

Claire Tyrrell and Gavin BoxCountryman
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_Mid West miner Gindalbie Metals triggered community concern last week when it applied for mining tenements over at least 12 properties in Narngulu and Moonyoonooka. _

Karara Infrastructure, a company associated with Karara Mining, served notice of a mining application that skirts Geraldton from Narngulu to Oakajee.

Karara Mining is a joint venture between Gindalbie Metals and Chinese steelmaker AnSteel, and runs the Karara magnetite mine 250km south-east of Geraldton.

If granted approval for the tenements, it is believed the miner will build a rail line to the proposed Oakajee port.

The placement of the tenements follows a similar, albeit wider, path than the State Government's proposed Oakajee Narngulu Infrastructure Corridor (ONIC).

Gindalbie Metals corporate affairs and investor relations manager Michael Weir said uncertainty about Oakajee's progress had sparked the move.

"Given the significant uncertainty around the development of Oakajee, Karara has recently started looking at options that will allow growth to our long-term plan of 30 million tonnes per annum," he said.

The State Government was surprised by Karara's move and Premier Colin Barnett said he would seek legal advice over the issue.

"The tenement application covers the entire ONIC," he said. "If granted, the application could affect the State's ability to deliver infrastructure in that location."

More than 50 people attended a meeting at the Moonyoonooka polocrosse clubrooms last Wednesday to discuss Karara's application.

The move by the miner came as a surprise to many and some landholders were yet to receive notices in the mail.

Moonyoonooka landholder and meeting convenor Tracey Kilpatrick said Karara applied for tenements on parts of her property.

She said residents were concerned about the potential impact of Karara's activities on their land.

She said the State Government's ONIC did not pass through her property, whereas Karara's proposed tenements did.

"I'm trying to get my head around this," she said.

"I look at the map and it covers all of our front paddock. This includes our home, which is less than two years old, and all of our sheds."

Karara's application is significantly wider than the ONIC proposal, at between one and 1.5km-wide compared with ONIC's 250-metre corridor.

Residents at the meeting were outraged at the lack of community consultation from Karara over this issue.

Austwide Mining Title Management principal consultant Roy Burton said it was fairly standard practice for mining companies to serve notice of an application first and consult later, to avoid the risk of a competitor taking the tenement.

"While it sounds like commonsense to consult first, in the mining industry you do that at your own peril, because if another company makes a pre-emptive move you're out of the game," he said.

He said a miscellaneous licence had a 21-year term and was broadly pegged at about a kilometre wide, but in the end was brought down to probably a hundred metres.

Mr Burton said mining companies were required to get written consent of landowners to get a miscellaneous licence.

Department of Mines and Petroleum executive director mineral titles Ivor Roberts said that under Section 29 of the Mining Act 1978, the applicant needed to demonstrate that the miscellaneous licence purpose was solely for mining purposes.

He said Karara would also need to secure written consent of the private landowner and occupier before the application could be considered for grant.

Residents have until October 12 to lodge public submissions over Karara's application, which will then rest in the hands of the State Mining Warden.

Gindalbie Metals caused a stir among Mid West farmers last month, after it was granted approval to draw five billion litres of water per annum from a freshwater aquifer in Mingenew.

A second public meeting over the tenement applications is expected to be held in Moonyoonooka today.

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