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Rio's Cape York mine expansion approved by Qld govt
24/05/2012 - The Queensland government has approved Rio Tinto's massive expansion of a bauxite mine on Cape York.
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The $1.45 billion South of Embley project is projected to produce between 22 and 50 million dry product tonnes of bauxite annually, and will extend the life of the mine by 40 years.
Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney on Wednesday gave the project the state's go-ahead.
He criticised Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke's March decision to delay the next stage of approvals because of "significant new information" about shipping traffic through the Great Barrier Reef.
"In fact, this important additional wealth generator for Queensland could face another year or more trapped in federal red-and-green tape," Seeney said.
"While Queensland had completed (the approval), the federal government imposed this delay on highly spurious grounds, a delay which threatens considerable cost to the company and the state economy."
Conservation groups worry about the potential impacts on the environment, and a tiny species of freshwater crab discovered in the area.
Rio Tinto has promised to leave untouched the creek where the crab was found, and to create a 200-metre barrier around the area.
The Wilderness Society's northern Australia campaigner Gavan McFadzean said major projects should not be approved until the federal government had completed its assessment of Cape York for a potential World Heritage application.
"What we're seeing is an alarming preparedness for the state government to rush through mining approvals while the World Heritage assessment is happening," McFadzean told reporters.
"It puts further impetus on the Commonwealth to show proper respect and diligence, because it appears the state government has abdicated its responsibility."
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