Risk and secrecy surrounding bauxite mining exposed
February 16, 2023

Mining in critical water catchments and across the Northern Jarrah Forests is under the spotlight in WA right now, with a series of bombshell revelations exposing the risks and the secrecy surrounding the industry. 

Bauxite mining in South West WA operates under State Agreement Acts – special pieces of legislation giving multinational companies Alcoa and South32 long-term access to the world’s only Jarrah forests and the massive profits that the bauxite below them represents.  

The first of these agreements was signed in 1961 by Acting Premier Charles Court, and the WA public was assured that only 25 hectares of forest would be cleared per year – ‘a mere postage stamp on the landscape’, we were told. 

Since then, 30,000 ha of the Northern Jarrah Forests have been cleared for mining and the rate is accelerating. The impacts on forests, wildlife, water and communities have been profound, but getting action from government has been notoriously difficult. 

But the WA public has wisened up to the clear and critical need to protect forests and the sense of entitlement and arrogance on display by mining companies feels as outdated as the agreements they’ve relied upon.  

The tide is turning on this issue. State Agreement Acts do not give companies sovereignty – that belongs to governments – and the critical need to act on climate and to protect water and biodiversity is undeniable.  

Read all the recent coverage here and make sure the Premier knows you are aware of the issues and want action taken to stop mining in the Northern Jarrah Forest.

Image: blasting near Serpentine Dam, by Jeremy Perey.

For a detailed analysis on the impacts of mining see our report A thousand cuts – mining in the Northern Jarrah Forests.