THE WEST AUSTRALIAN
Thursday, 31 January 2013 09:27
Fortescue Metals Group chairman Andrew Forrest faces the prospect of other miners moving in on his ancestral land, after the mining magnate lost the latest round of a running fight to prevent a sand mining company operating on his family cattle station.
After a two-year battle in the Warden's Court, which hears disputes about the grant of mining and exploration leases, Magistrate Stephen Wilson recommended Mines Minister Norman Moore approve the grant of two mining leases on Mr Forrest's Minderoo Station.
The applications were made in 2010 by privately-owned Yarri Mining, which wanted to take sand from areas around the Ashburton River near Mr Forrest's homestead.
In response Mr Forrest's private company, Forrest & Forrest, lodged multiple objections to the grant of the leases.
The billionaire argued Yarri's applications were not lodged correctly, the company's operations would affect the "infrastructure and pastoral improvement of Minderoo", deprive Mr Forrest of use of the land, impact on the viability of the pastoral lease, cause environmental damage and "sterilise and degrade" the pastoral land of Minderoo.
Lawyers for Mr Forrest also argued the applications were not appropriate because Yarri did not have a valid mining target or strategy and the financial means to properly mine on the ground.
In his decision, Mr Wilson described the Forrest & Forrest objections as numerous and detailed. Mr Wilson said he accepted Yarri had failed to lodge its applications correctly, although it later remedied major omissions, but dismissed other objections raised.
Mr Forrest is still fighting on multiple fronts to keep other miners out of Minderoo.
Last year the Fortescue chairman attracted criticism from Tony Sage after objecting to applications lodged by Mr Sage's Cauldron Energy, which wanted to explore for uranium at Minderoo. Separate objections to other leases lodged by Yarri are still before the Warden's Court.
A spokeswoman for Mr Forrest said yesterday he was disappointed at the Warden's decision to allow sand mining "within the historical and environmentally fragile parts of Minderoo pastoral station".
It is unclear whether he will seek a review of the ruling, either by arguing to the Supreme Court that Mr Wilson made an error in law, or by making submissions to Mines Minister Norman Moore to ignore the Warden's Court recommendation.
Yarri Mining could not be contact for comment yesterday.
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