The Tasmanian Minerals Council is a partisan pro-mining lobby group that participates in the campaign to encourage mining in Tasmania. As part of this, looking over their website one can see that they push the idea that the Greens and environmental ‘minority groups’ are trying to ‘lock-up’ Tasmania and prevent ‘balanced’ development.

As part of this they have a document on their website called ‘The Rise of the Reserves’.

This is quite simply a scare story and it is incorrect. It consists of a series of maps that show the ‘growth’ of presumably ‘locked-up’ areas (Reserves) that have been taken away from the Tasmanian people by ‘minority groups’ with a conservation agenda. It shows these reserves as bright red; which raises the warning message of a stop light and the old saying about environmentalists as being, ‘Green on the outside but Communist red on the inside’.

Since the Tarkine is the contentious issue, let’s look at how ‘locked-up’ the Tasmanian Minerals Council shows the Tarkine region to be, and then the reality.

The Tasmanian Minerals Council depiction of the Tarkine region as reserved land.

Quite simply, mining is allowed practically everywhere in Tasmania, except for National Parks and the World Heritage Area. Even then, Tasmanian law allows for mining in National Parks if the Government-of-the-day writes mining into the management plan for the Park. I seem to recall that during World War Two, a National Park was opened up for peat mining owing to domestic fuel shortages. Lake Pedder famously had its National Park status revoked in the 1960s.

The World Heritage Area is also not exempt; if the Government-of-the-day can withstand the public outcry and pressure, mining is entirely possible. One of the two World Heritage Areas that have been delisted was in Oman, where the Government of that country asked for a delisting as they had opened up that World Heritage Area to oil mining.

So what is the reality of this scary Red ‘reserved’ Tarkine? The following map, from Mineral Resources Tasmania, shows the current state of play in the Tarkine region.

Mining opportunities in the Tarkine region. Pale pink: non-metallic licences. Blue: metallic licences. Red: mining leases. Yellow lines: Exploration release areas. Green: petroleum licences. Grey: Savage River National Park and World Heritage Area.

But what about the rest of Tasmania?

Mining opportunities in Tasmania. Blue: Metallic licences. Red: Mining leases. Green: Petroleum licences. Light blue: Fuel licences. Yellow lines: Exploration release areas. Pinkish: Non-metallic licenses. Grey: National Parks and World Heritage Area.

What of the area around Hobart?

Mining opportunities around Hobart. Yellow lines: Exploration release areas. Green: Petroleum licences. Blue: License areas. Red: Mining leases. Grey: National Parks and World Heritage Area.

So the message is simple; when pro-mining people talk about Greenies wanting to lock-up Tasmania, this is untrue – Tasmania is open for the mining industry. For some people this is worrying, because the green areas on the map above means petroleum exploration licences have been granted and for many people that means the possibility of ‘fracking’.

But that is another story … just remember … don’t believe the miners’ hype!

ABC: The Tasmanian Government has approved a lease for a $50 million coal mine in the Fingal Valley.