Residents angry about plans to explore for bauxite in the South West have vowed to fight a bid to push ahead with the proposal, saying it puts some of WA's most productive farmland at risk.
Chinese-backed Bauxite Resources Ltd got a red light this month from the WA Mining Warden to its application for three exploration tenements between Bridgetown and Manjimup.
In his recommendations, Magistrate Stephen Wilson noted the applications covered "in part high-quality private farmland" and environmentally important State forests and reserves. "The standard conditions relied upon by (Bauxite Resources) to ensure it will safeguard the environment during its exploration activity do not go far enough," Mr Wilson said.
The WA Farmers Federation said the case highlighted growing competition for the State's best farmland but the company said the rejection was a surprise given it already had dozens of tenements in the region.
"This is just part of a process . . . and we'll be involved in that," company chairman Barry Carbon said.
Bauxite Resources would make a submission to Mines Minister Norman Moore before a final decision.
Builder Julian Sharp, who lives 15km south of Pemberton, appealed to the warden against Bauxite Resources' application, saying the wider Manjimup area was too fragile to allow mining.
Mr Sharp said the area was a food basket for WA that produced high-value fruit and vegetables and it was imperative the region retained its "clean, green" marketing image.
He also objected on the grounds the proposal could ultimately lead to mining in State forests already under stress from a growing number of threats.
Pemberton resident Rose Ferrell, who also appealed against the company's bid, said the local environment was more important than any short-term financial gain from the plans.
Farmers Federation president Dale Park said he personally was not opposed to miners exploring for minerals on farmland because they had an obligation to negotiate with landholders.