from Townsville bureau
Mining giant Rio Tinto in spite of its much-touted support for indigenous people on Cape York Peninsula has economically suppressed the Napranum Aboriginal community which adjoins the township of Weipa.
Three years ago an application was made to Rio Tinto by local elders who hold a Forestry Department timber cutting permit, to resume timber harvesting on Rio’s vast mining lease.
A Napranum native title group had been cutting timber on the mining lease and processing it in their modern sawmill since 1996 but halted production due to management and distribution problems in 2015.
A spokesperson said the sawmill and at least 10 local jobs had been idle ever since. Rio management at Weipa made every excuse during negotiations to recommence harvesting to prevent timber cutting on any part of their lease.
Instead at least three times a year the miner clears and burns large areas of valuable hardwood.
In 2017 at least 3000 acres of prized Cooktown Ironwood and Darwin Stringy timber worth at least $1.8M after processing was cleared and burnt without a single log being salvaged.
This occurs on an annual basis.
The mining giant claimed timber cutting could not go ahead because they had found palm cockatoos and quolls on parts of their lease. It was explained to the environmental section that these animals are not endangered and can be found across the Peninsula and south to Mareeba.
Never mind their fate when clearing and burning occurs.
The State Government, which issued the harvesting permit, has done little to get the timber cutting and sawmill restarted. It seems Rio rules the roost in Queensland.