Mining company denies clearing rainforest near Amamoor
MINING company Eclipse Metals continues its exploration and sampling of manganese deposits in the Kandanga and Amamoor State Forests and on private land throughout the Mary Valley and adjacent districts.
The company has responded to criticism this week that it has cleared an area of 60-year-old rainforest regrowth in the Amamoor State Forest near the popular Amama picnic area, and for possibly planning to remove most of the forested ridge that runs from Amama up to the old fire tower.
Photos taken two weeks ago and published on Facebook this week allegedly show about 500m of tracks dozed through the rainforest near Amama, including some 50m-diameter pads for the company's drilling rig.
Metal Eclipse executive chairman Carl Popal said the forest in that area contained lots of cotton bush, lantana and plantation pine trees.
"Amamoor State forest and surrounding areas are managed by HQ Plantation," Mr Popal told The Gympie Times yesterday.
"There are current logging operation within surrounding areas managed by HQ planation.
"There is no information on 'Eclipse Website' that indicates 100m overburden or that there will be 100m deep pit in Amamoor.
"Amamoor state forest does not constitute as rainforest. The vegetation in the Amamoor state forest is primarily made of European lantana bush - considered as a pest by the department of agriculture, African cotton bush (the plant is poisonous and has caused deaths in cattle, sheep and poultry), hoop pine trees which are planted by HQ plantation for future logging.
"Eclipse Metals has strictly complied with all relevant Queensland environmental authorities and has obtained permits for any and all work on site and will do so in the future."
Earlier this year Mr Popal said drill testing on a property at Langshaw was expected to be finished by mid-March.
"We're not mining obviously, that's a completely different approval," Mr Popal said of the Langshaw testing.
Whether the company seeks a lease to mine there will be determined by the financial viability of the deposits.
"It should be at least a good two years before we start actual extraction," Mr Popal said.
The area near Amama is in the historic manganese mines that were worked between 1920 and 1960 in the Amamoor State Forest.
The Facebook post accompanying the photos by Chris Nichols states:
"The area is up the trail opposite Amama Park, at the clearing at the top of the hill.
"Documents available on the company's website suggest they may need to remove up to 100m of overburden if the mine goes ahead. They will remove most of the ridge that runs from Amama up to the old fire tower. Think about it for a moment, a 100m pit in the middle of the State Forest."
Mr Nichols said there now wasn't much forest left where the exploration had taken place and that the cleared area was identified as native forest "of state significance for biodiversity".
A spokesman for the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy confirmed in January that Eclipse had three exploration permits for the area, but no current mining leases.
"The granted EPMs authorise drilling for exploration purposes only and do not authorise any mining activity," the spokesman said.
"Eclipse Metals is an ASX listed company and is required to comply with land access laws and its environmental authority before making entry on land, including for drilling."
According to Eclipse Metals' website, the Mary Valley Manganese Project is located about 14 road kilometres southwest of Gympie.
The largest mine on the tenements controlled by Eclipse Metals Ltd was at Amamoor No.1 Manganese Deposit (19,630t @ 51% Mn).
A total of 31,477 tonnes of ore was mined from the Mary Valley Project (within the three exploration permit mineral areas) with the manganese grade ranging from 42% to 51% Mn with the limits of all the deposit not known either along strike or at depth.
Historical assays have also indicated that the Mn, Fe, Si and P levels are all within the direct shipping ore parameters which further confirm the economic potential of standalone mining operations over the Mary Valley Manganese Project.
The project has 198 square kilometres of favourable lithology are present within the 2 Exploration Licence (EPM) areas.