Posted by: Colin Battersby | December 13, 2010

Storm erupts over North Stradbroke Island sandmining


ENVIRONMENTALISTS rallied on North Stradbroke Island yesterday to protest against the State Government’s failure to throw the book at resources giant Unimin over alleged illegal sandmining.

Island watchdog groups passed a motion calling on the Government to bring “the full force of the law” against the Belgian miner over what they claimed was years of illegal mining.

The Government is prosecuting Unimin for breaching its permits but groups including the Friends of Stradbroke Island and some traditional owners are demanding the company be charged with stealing the sand.

Barristers engaged by traditional owners last month sent a legal opinion to Premier Anna Bligh that “there is a prima facie case of stealing and of misappropriation/fraud having been committed by Unimin”.

Unimin has said any illegal sand mining was inadvertent and carried out with the “full knowledge” of the Government, which has defended the adequacy of its action against the miner.

FOSI president Sue Ellen Carew said about $80 million of sand that should have been used to rehabilitate the island had instead been sold off to the construction and landscape industries.

“The charging of Unimin with simple offences only, alleging lack of the correct permits but not dishonesty, has provided legitimacy to its claims of innocence of intentional wrongdoing,” she said.

Traditional owner Dale Ruska said the Government’s failure to take tougher action was against the spirit of a planned native title agreement covering the island. “If this is to be genuine reconciliation, Unimin must be fully prosecuted for taking our land, which is made up of sand,” Mr Ruska said.

via Storm erupts over North Stradbroke Island sandmining | Courier Mail.

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