据悉，Mineralogy公司的董事长、前联邦议会议员Clive Palmer称，中国政府拒绝为西澳Pilbara地区的Cape Preston项目履行义务。Mineralogy公司负责管理环境恢复基金，保证项目结束之后原址的自然环境能够得到恢复，但该公司不能直接使用基金。最近，中信集团董事长常振明表示，中信集团正在考虑撤出西澳的项目。这意味着澳大利亚要尽快敦促中信集团缴清环境保护费。Palmer先生表示，Mineralogy公司将不会继续容忍下去。
Mineralogy公司的执行董事长Nui Harris表示，根据Mike Slight的报告估计，中信集团控股的公司平均每天会造成1百万美元以上的环境损害。Harris先生表示，在缴清这些环境保护费之前，这个项目应该被暂停运营。
Clive Palmer的言论表明，在适当的时候，澳大利亚会采取紧急法律措施，禁止Sino Iron和Korean Steel项目的运营，直到中方缴清所有的环境保护费。
『原文』 What happens when mines close in Australia?
Given the remoteness and harsh conditions in Australia, few mines can ever be more than taken back to a “natural environment” despite ambitious laws that try to achieve complete remediation.
Environment and populist causes?
In the political system of Australia this also leads to a lot of xenophobic grandstanding via press-release by political participants, lobby groups and other stakeholders, with headlines like:
Chinese-owned companies fail to meet hundreds of millions of dollars of environmental obligations in WA – According to Andrew Crook, EGN Media.
The argument then usually is backed by some sort of report!
An environmental report by senior mining executive Mike Slight claims to have confirmed that the Sino Iron and Korean Steel projects owned by Chinese state-owned company CITIC Limited have exceeded more than $500 million in damage which will be required to be rehabilitated.
In his report, Mr. Slight, a leading expert in mine closure management, environment and social responsibility with more than 25 years’ experience including General Manager at Normandy Mining and Newmont Australia, found that Sino Iron and Korean Steel have failed to pay a total of $529,378,207 into the rehabilitation fund established in 2014 under an agreement with Mineralogy Pty Ltd.
The agreement provided a detailed schedule of financial contribution as per the Iron Processing Mineral Act 2002 passed by the WA parliament.
It is claimed, Chairman of Mineralogy and previous Member of Federal Parliament, Clive Palmer, confirmed the Chinese government refused to meet its obligations for the Cape Preston project in WA’s Pilbara region. Mineralogy acts as a trustee for these funds to ensure the site can be rehabilitated at completion of mining. The company has no access to these funds however it wants to ensure the land can be properly rehabilitated when the project concludes. Such funds are set up so these important obligations can be met. Mr. Palmer reportedly further said recent statements by the chairman of CITIC Group, Chang Zhenming, that CITIC was considering leaving the project meant that the funds owing was now pressing and urgent. As a result of these obligations not being met, Mineralogy can’t allow this situation to continue, Mr. Palmer is suggested to have said.
According to a press-release, Operations Executive for Mineralogy, Nui Harris, estimated that the CITIC-owned companies were accumulating more than $1 million dollars environmental damage per day of operation, based on the report. This project shouldn’t be allowed to continue until these outstanding funds have been paid by CITIC into the trust fund, Mr. Harris said.
When pressed, by whom is not clear, Clive Palmer apparently foreshadowed urgent legal action for an injunction in the WA Supreme Court against Sino Iron and Korean Steel to stop mining operations until the full environmental obligations were met.
Report author Mr. Slight said there was major decommission, clean-up and rehabilitation work required.
A major Australian concern is that there are over 50,000 abandoned mines across the country. It’s a real risk unless agreed contributions are made.
Mr. Harris said, serious questions must be asked why foreign government owned companies are being allowed to exploit the wealth of Australia unchecked.
Getting exited or angry?
So much for press-releases to stimulate debate and take positions on topics in a current affairs environment. Sadly, many claims can just be ambit claims or political grand standing.
In a freedom of speech environment, it is important that there are many different views on the issues, but they need to be tempered and not vilify, for example on religious or racial grounds. In Australia that is not always easy, as many past cases have shown.
In the present political environment in Australia debates entangle may issues, as recent exchanges for example on Sovereignty and China, Communist Party phobia have shown. A debate that is starting to intrude in the areas of mining and agriculture.
This creates a clear problem for foreign investors like CITIC, as new federal legislation, proposed laws, prohibits foreigners to try to influence the political debate in Australia, but how do they make their case and defend their interests?
It looks like this economically regressive debate will continue for some time as in the “Trump-era” everyone is out get the better of each other, rather than to cooperate for the common good.
How do you see these issues and debates?
A. Healthy democratic?
B. Dangerous populist?
C. Just noise?
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