Our Darling Scarp: Scarred Beyond Recognition

 

 

This aerial picture says it all.
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It’s a satellite image of the coast and Darling Scarp inland and south of Mandurah, WA.
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Most West Australians know that for decades bauxite, gold and coal mining have been conducted in the region.
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But do they know about the extraordinary environmental damage, pollution and the growing alarm in old hills communities about encroaching operations? If they did, perhaps the outcry would be deafening.
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The Darling Scarp is one of the State’s richest, most important flora and fauna regions. It has been irreparably impacted by intensive mining. This  beloved playground of generations of Sandgropers continues to be laid to waste at an alarming rate.
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But unless you own a drone, or live in Perth’s hills, it remains a case of out of sight, out of mind. Rather like the extensive logging operations in our southwest forests (there is less then 9% of our old growth timber left there), most of the mining operations are fenced in and screened by peripheral trees. Nothing to see here, folks! Observers are not welcome.
The pictures here tell the real story. Note the size of the hills’ bauxite operations east of Mandurah and the Peel Inlet. Look at the yellow, radiating branch-like cleared area on the scarp. Trees are felled, mining has scarred the landscape. This area is approximately 25kms by 25kms – far larger than the adjacent Mandurah metropolitan area!
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To the south of here, inland from Waroona at Nanga Brook, is another large area of operations, about 15kms by 11kms..
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To the north east of this is the Boddington Gold Mine and its rather ominous electric blue leach pond. Both of these sites are clearly visible from space.
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Just to the southeast of here is the once pristine and lovely Mount Saddleback, cleared and deeply scarred. Mining operations here are about 20kms by 5kms.  The mountain is ruined.
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On the coastal plains below the scarp the primary refineries and their ponds can be seen in telltale orange.
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What has been allowed to happen to our regional metropolitan landscape? None of these places will ever be the same again. The ancient ecosystems are severely damaged and it would take tens of thousands of years for them to ever be fully restored to what they were.
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Rehabilitation never brings back what millions of years have created.
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The miners are not finished. They want to continue digging up more of the scarp for years to come. Where will it stop?
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When the McGowan government said logging would cease in the southwest in the near future, the timber clearing for mining operations on the scarp was excluded. Such is the all-powerful hold of mining companies over WA governments and the secretive methods which keep it hush-hush.
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Hence, all this is going on right under the noses of the most densely populated part of the state. It is all going on just on the eastern doorstep of our towns and city.
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Did you know the extent of this assault on our landscape? Have another look at the top overview, the massive scale of mining operations, and see what they have done to our beautiful hills.
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And if you feel as ruffled as we do after seeing these confronting images, contact your local politician, sign a petition, speak up.
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To quote US author Bodie Thoene, “Apathy is the glove in which evil slips its hand.”
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4 thoughts on “Our Darling Scarp: Scarred Beyond Recognition

  1. Look on my works and weep.

    Revegetation, if it is tried, does not succeed because there is something about removal of the bauxite that plants need to flourish.

    1. Yes, Margaret, rehabilitation in ancient ecosystems is a cynical and rather pointless exercise. You can never bring back what natural generation has created over millennia. It is too complex and fragile. The man made alternative is simply window dressing on a grand scale. The original is gone forever. Indeed, the bauxite in the Darling Scarp soils has played a major role in making the vegetation what it is today.

  2. An excellent article, Peter. Like most West Australians, I knew mining had been going on in the Perth hills for years, but I had no idea of its extent. I agree — it’s time for us to wake up and say, Enough! Margot Lang

    1. Yes, there are massive operations in the Hills, Margot, and few know the extent of it. The state government and companies responsible do, though. They need to call an end to it or it will not only obliterate vast areas of vital flora and fauna, but will start impacting very badly on regional communities. In fact, in towns like Dwellingup, it already is.

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