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No turtle, no deal

TurtleChina Watch

By Yan Yan, Beijing

Aluminum Corporation of China (CHINALCO) , China’s largest alumina producer has made a promise to Australia: the mining plan in Queensland will not damage the environment or affect the endangered turtles; otherwise, the deal could be off, according to Chinadaily.

The Aurukun bauxite project is the largest investment by a Chinese company in Australia but if the number of turtles decreases after several months of monitoring, the deal could be off.

The endangered turtles are a crucial part of the Chinese company’s A$3 billion ($2.58 billion) project environmental assessment test.

The turtle census is only one part of the environmental report card. It will take two years to conduct the full comprehensive test to see whether Chinalco’s mining plan will damage the environment and affect its ecological balance and diversity.

Last year when Chinalco signed the agreement with the government of Queensland, to develop the bauxite mining project, some Australian activists challenged the project’s environmental impact, arguing that China is seeking to transfer a high-pollution industry overseas.

Well, the fate of the Australia reminds me of another animal, the Yangtze dolphin. And the turtle is much luckier than the dolphin who lived in China’s Yangtzi River and now is possibly extinct due to the heavy cargo traffic and the water pollution in the river. What if China said NO to those huge projects along the river? Maybe we could still have a chance to look at those white, beautiful and unique Chinese dolphins…

1 Comment

  • Dave Kimble
    Posted April 12, 2008 at 6:43 am

    The green credentials of Chinalco have been questioned by more than just “environmental activists”.

    One of the proposed sites for the alumina refinery is Townsville in north Queensland. In the recent Townsville (amalgamated) City Council elections, the former Mayor, Tony Mooney, did a back-flip by saying he was now against the development happening in Townsville – on environmental grounds. His main opponent, the former Mayor of Thuringowa, Ken Tyrrell, also said he had serious misgivings about the project’s environmental credentials. The Greens candidate for Mayor, Jenny Stirling, had campaigned for a long time on the issue, and had widespread community support.

    Mooney’s campaign was master-minded by his Australian Labor Party colleagues from Brisbane, so the Queensland ALP Government understands that there are real environmental problems with the project.

    The community has no confidence in the Chinese to do things in an environmentally sustainable way – China is widely regarded as the world’s worst environmental vandal.

    The other major problem is that the refinery will need a new power station to supply it. The Queensland Government has stated in its Climate Smart 2050 Policy that it will not build any more coal-fired power stations until “clean coal” technology is available. However there is a clause in the fine print that says there can be an exception to this rule if the project is of international significance and might otherwise relocate to a non-Annexe 1 country (with no Kyoto target to meet).

    Thus it seems likely that this clause will be used to build a coal-fired power station for Chinalco’s refinery. This will cause mass outrage in Australia, where the political atmosphere is for closing down coal-fired power stations, and lead to an environmental campaign that ties the project up for many years.

    I expect to see China walking away from the refinery aspect of the development, which was a part of the deal forced on them by former Queensland Premier, Peter Beattie. In desperation, Queensland will allow them to operate the Aurukun bauxite mine and export the beneficiated ore directly.

    Even so, the political hurdles to be overcome are enormous.
    This is no “done deal”.

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