LETTER TO THE EDITOR:
IS it fair that the government uses taxpayers’ money to prop up mining companies who are not financially viable and who threaten a valuable agricultural industry which is a significantly higher employer than the mining sector in Wellington Shire?
The entire Macalister Irrigation District, Gippsland Lakes and surrounds extending east as far as Marlo, are now covered by mining exploration licences EL4416 for coal and coal seam gas and EL4968, being recently approved for base metals (copper, lead and zinc), gold, mineral sands, platinum and silver.
These licences are owned by Ignite Energy Resources and its subsidiary Entrance Energy respectively.
In 2013 IER was found by auditors to be financially struggling to continue as a going concern.
In May 2014 the promining federal and state Coalition governments assisted with a grant to IER to the tune of $20 million.
Furthermore, in September, 2014, shortly after the approval of EL4968, Energy Minister Russell Northe announced a $15 million initiative to co-fund more exploration for minerals, especially copper and base metals, in regional Victoria.
With the significant polluting aspects of this type of mining being incompatible with farming and risking a further decline of the Gippsland Lakes, funding such activities is inconsistent with Mr Northe’s recent comment in reference to the health of the Gippsland Lakes when he said “we need to do more where we can to ensure that we not only have the Gippsland Lakes as a destination for tourists but making sure that upstream all rivers and lakes and creeks are environmentally sound”.