Councillor Steve Brown states the proposed Titjikala “salt mine presents …

Comment on Salt mine: Alice needs to grasp a major opportunity by Alex Nelson.

Councillor Steve Brown states the proposed Titjikala “salt mine presents a fantastic opportunity for our community” but to my mind his comment piece suggests the Tellus Holdings presentation to the town council has overtones of an ultimatum to Alice Springs.
There are legitimate questions to be raised about the demand for a sealed 120km road from Alice Springs to the mine site to be paid for by taxpayers.
What immediately springs to my mind is why the same conditions haven’t applied to the massive gold mining operations to the northwest of Alice Springs that have been operating since the mid 1980s.
Surely by now there has been sufficient revenue generated from those mines to offset the cost of sealing the Tanami Road?
This was first called for by the new Member for Stuart, Tony Greatorex, as long ago as 1966, yet to this day the often shocking state of this potentially significant highway route to northwest WA is a perennial topic of debate in the media.
By contrast we have the Tableland and Carpentaria Highways (from the Barkly and Stuart Highways respectively) that converge towards Borroloola which were sealed by the Commonwealth in 1967.
This was done in part to assist the development of the massive McArthur River mine site which at the time was intended to include a new port town based on Centre Island with a population of 10,000 (to put that in perspective, the population of Alice Springs at the time was about 7,000).
However, the development of the McArthur River mine was postponed and didn’t proceed until 1995, becoming a FIFO operation and (as things currently stand) will leave little in improvements for the Gulf Region once the mining operation there eventually ends.
But it will almost certainly be leaving a significant environmental legacy to manage inevitably at great expense to the taxpayer.
For any mining operation, either current or prospective, we all need to start seeing a great deal more in return otherwise we’re just allowing ourselves and the country to be ripped off.

Alex Nelson Also Commented

Salt mine: Alice needs to grasp a major opportunity
My thanks to Tellus Managing Director, Duncan van der Merwe, for his comprehensive reply to comments and concerns expressed on this article; and also to Councillor Steve Brown whose letter to Alice Springs News Online seems to have done more to bring this project to public attention than has occurred before.
There’s a lot of information to take note of here and only limited time left for public comment on the draft EIS.
It is a pleasant change to see the public’s right to know acknowledged rather than the hitherto usual modus operandi of business and government operating on the basis of what they consider to be the public’s need to know.


Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

Another great river tree goes up in flames
@ Karen (Posted August 21, 2019 at 2:04 pm): Hi Karen, I presume you mean the wildfire on the Ross Highway side of Todd River in 2002, as I recall?
That was a very damaging conflagration fuelled by buffel grass that had grown rampant during the wet years of 2000-01.
It came very close to rural properties next to the river.
As it happened, I took photos of that area several times prior to the wildfire so was able to get contrasting before and after shots that demonstrated the severity of that particular blaze.
There were a number of other deliberately lit fires at the time such as along Colonel Rose Drive, and the damage remains clearly visible to this day.


Gunner goofs: No council ‘decisions’ on gallery site
@ Some Guy (Posted August 19, 2019 at 10:43 am): No, I don’t “feel like this golden opportunity of a project to secure the future of Central Australia both in an economic and cultural sense on the world stage is slowly slipping through the fingers” because it was an illusion in the first place.
This isn’t the first occasion that a big project has been held out for us in The Centre offering some kind of economic Nirvana; we were told exactly the same kind of thing with the casino 40 years ago, and again with the development of the Alice Springs Desert Park in the mid 1990s.
Both of these facilities may be attractions but have never come close to fulfilling the visions originally held out to us as major game changers for the Centre’s economy.
With all due respect, I cannot see how a “National Aboriginal Art Gallery” will prove to be any different in the long run.


Another great river tree goes up in flames
@ Bob Taylor (Posted August 14, 2019 at 8:38 am): In this case grass wasn’t the problem, Bob, as even hard up against the trunk of the tree I noticed that none of it was burnt.
What seems to have happened was that a campfire was lit under one of the old exposed support roots of the tree and it was from this source that the flames spread into the trunk.
The roots in turn have been exposed by erosion exacerbated by the lowering of the river bed over a decade ago for flood mitigation.
The lowering of the river bed has also enabled campers to conceal themselves better from view. Unless the river bed is physically patrolled, no-one else knows they are there.


Invasive buffel grass soon part of international focus
The caption for the photo: “Dense infestation buffalo grass in land near the Alice Springs airport” brings back some memories. During my years at school in the 1970s, invariably when I spoke about buffel grass everyone thought I meant buffalo grass, a common variety of garden lawn. [ED– the autocorrect of ‘buffalo’ for ‘buffel’ has now been corrected, thanks Alex.]
As my home was at AZRI and then the new CSIRO field station next door, I was completely familiar with buffel grass during the time when its systematic introduction for dust control (especially for the Alice Springs Airport) and improved pasture was fully underway.
However, this was still the time when buffel grass was not yet dominant in the landscape so most people were unfamiliar with it.


Nuke power way to zero emissions, or a solar shortcut?
@ Ted Egan (Posted August 3, 2019 at 2:50 pm): Hello Ted, if you go to this link https://www.alicespringsnews.com.au/2013/07/11/when-gas-turns-to-hot-air/ and check out the CLP’s full page election advertisement from 1980, it’s just possible to make out that one of the energy options the NT Government was touting was “an experimental wind power generator for the Barkly Tablelands”.
The CLP was also giving consideration for nuclear power at that time, too.
Ah yes, we’re right into recycling!


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