Posted by: Colin Battersby | February 16, 2010

North Stradbroke sand-mining company charged with theft?


GUARDIANS of North Stradbroke Island have called for American resources giant Unimin to be charged with large-scale theft after the huge extent of allegedly illegal sand-mining was revealed.

The State Government recently charged Unimin with illegal sand-mining on the island after a 12-month investigation during which the company’s offices were raided and computer records seized.

Now, the Friends of Stradbroke Island are stepping up pressure to end decades of sand-mining on the eco-sensitive island and have it declared a national park.

It says Unimin should be hit with more serious charges after revelations tens of millions of dollars worth of sand may have been removed from Stradbroke illegally and sold off.

FOSI president Sue Ellen Carew said that, until now, the extent of the sand-mining was not publicly known. But the Department of Environment and Resource Management had revealed that 50,000 to 100,000 tonnes a year had been allegedly removed.

“That means that up to 1.8 million tonnes of sand over that period may have been unlawfully removed from the island,” Mrs Carew said. “At a street value of $50 per tonne, a conservative average retail price, this means the extent of the alleged illegality is simply staggering – in the vicinity of $80 million.

“Imagine if you or I took an excavator and tip truck to the nearest beach, loaded it up with sand and then sold it at the local landscaping centre on a Saturday morning. The authorities would shut us down in an instant.”

Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland spokesman Simon Baltais said the Bligh Government should take stronger action “to show that illegal removal and sale of sand that should be used for rehabilitation will not be tolerated”.

“To do this, the company should be charged with indictable offences – such as stealing and serious environmental harm – to reflect the severity of the alleged illegality,” he said.

“That would allow the Government to recoup the millions of dollars in profits that the company made . . . if it is convicted. The existing charges, being non-indictable, do not permit the state to use its confiscation of illegal proceeds legislation.”

via North Stradbroke sand-mining company &squo;should be charged with theft&squo; | The Courier-Mail.

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