Wednesday, 05 December 2012 14:19
Mining has been banned around a prime tourist attraction in Western Australia's west Kimberley region, the Horizontal Falls, but it's unclear which miners will be affected.
The Horizontal Falls is a rare phenomenon, described by famed naturalist Sir David Attenborough as one of the world's greatest natural wonders.
Massive tidal movements within Talbot Bay in the Buccaneer Archipelago, 110km north northeast of Derby, cause the sea to rush through narrow gaps between cliffs, creating a waterfall effect as water banks up against one side of the passage.
On Wednesday, WA Resources Minister Norman Moore said the state government had established a 72 sq km mining exemption area surrounding the Horizontal Falls.
The status prevented current and future mining activity in the area, and provided greater protection for the tourist attraction than national park status, Mr Moore said.
He said pending mineral exploration applications in the area were voluntarily withdrawn "as a show of support for the state's move to protect the falls".
It is not clear which mining leases have been relinquished.
Comment is being sought from the Department of Mines and Petroleum and Perth-based Pegasus Metals, which operates the McLarty Range copper project about 10km from the falls.
Pegasus Metals' latest release to the Australian Securities Exchange on Monday made no mention of pulling out of the project, instead describing it as "the big prize".
In addition to copper, it contains gold, silver and zinc.
Pegasus Metals says it has defined a 60km "strike" or deposit length over its 5000 sq km of tenements of the McLarty Range.
The rugged site can be reached only by sea or air.
The Horizontal Falls have been nominated for inclusion on the Register of State Geoheritage Sites, Mr Moore said.
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