Miners will be asked to relinquish leases on the Mitchell Plateau under the WA Opposition’s plans to establish national parks in the Kimberley region.
If the party wins the March 9 election, talks will begin with several companies that are exploring mainly for bauxite on the Mitchell Plateau, Opposition Leader Mark McGowan says.
These include Rio Tinto and Alcoa.
“We will commence negotiations with the mining lease holders on the Mitchell Plateau to ensure that over time, it is put into a national park,” he told reporters on Friday.
The threat of future mining on the Mitchell Plateau should be removed, Mr McGowan said.
“It is a beautiful area and the idea that it may one day be mined under State Agreement Acts signed 40 or 50 years ago is not acceptable,” he said.
“It should never be mined.”
As soon as the exploration leases expired, the opposition would seek to ensure they were not renewed.
“It’s subject to a State Agreement Act so obviously requires the consent of the mining leaseholders but I think a sensible discussion with those mining lease holders should result in a fair and good outcome.”
Mr McGowan said he would personally hold the conversations with the leaseholders.
“I am confident people will see the reason in not ever allowing mining on the Mitchell Plateau,” he said.
Mr McGowan denied the move would be seen as increasing sovereign risk for mineral explorers and didn’t expect they would need to be paid compensation.
“Norman Moore recently closed down eight mining leases in the southwest - that was a far more dramatic decision.”
To mine bauxite on the Mitchell Plateau could require a refinery, which was unacceptable, he said.