There was once the possibility of mining diamonds from the …

Comment on Miners are spreading myths, says environmentalist by Trevor Shiell.

There was once the possibility of mining diamonds from the Kimberlite pipes at the Merlin deposits near Boroloola by members of the Gutnick family who were prominent mining entrepreneurs at that time.
The project never went ahead, I suspect, because diamond supply and consequent price is still tightly controlled by the De Beers family and other South African interest.
At one time I was a shareholder in the Merlin mine but the ethics of it smelled to high heaven and I quit.
There is no shortage of diamonds but the marketing is so tightly controlled to prevent barriers to further entry.
In addition the main value is in industrial use and in the small but lucrative top end of the market.
Like in so many of the high end uses (recently well demonstrated in the high fashion industry and in our own Indigenous art, where thousands of fine pieces are held in reserve for fear of flooding the market). The idea is to restrict supply to drive up price. There is little value in that for us in the NT as nice and comfortable as it may sound to have the Indigenous women cutting and polishing stones in the Mall thus increasing the supply and driving the price down.
If it were not so there would be an immense flood of polished stone coming out of West Africa.
The powers in control of the market will never let it happen – a sad reality of marketing.
Re the development of other industries which are a more immediate need for us: The failing of this and previous governments has been the lack of proactive planning when new industries have emerged.
The most most obvious ones of recent times have not been diamonds but medicinal cannabis, a billion dollar industry well suited to here, and production of hydrogen from water and solar power for the hydrogen car revolution coming our way.
The establishment of hydrogen production facility in Adelaide was justified on the intensity of the sunlight in Adelaide!
No-one thought to ask them to investigate The Centre, and this lack of proactive planning and action is the root cause of our economic woes.
Where are the demonstration plots of medicinal cannabis to attract the investors?
All covered in houses. And here we are involved in the Beetaloo gas discussions re fracking while the Permian beds under Texas and Mexico have so much gas that they are having difficulty giving it away.
We stew in our own juice.

Recent Comments by Trevor Shiell

Wakefield, Ryan star in the Phantom of the Art Gallery
I might have to remove my shoes to count the number of “revitalise the CBD” initiatives were put forward over the last few years, none of which seem to have worked.
We have no histories left to demonstrate apart from Adelaide house, Flynn Church and Todd Tavern for visitors wanting to see the history and outback romantics that once were here.
However we have shopping malls and shopping facilities just like they have at home-often at inflated prices.
In the meantime, the missed opportunities have been enormous outside the current CBD and South of The Gap but unrecognised through shortsighted planning and lack of a proactive approach.
We could have had a major solar research facility here 40 years ago from Germany. We have just had a visit from a group of southern agriculturalists looking for food production investment (and employment) opportunities here.
We could have had a hydrogen production facility here but no one bothered to approach them, and now we have an Indigenous food research and commercialisation facility being promoted in Queensland with bush tucker from here.
Add to that development of acacias and other local plants for both food and animal fodder being developed overseas or interstate.
All we can show potential investors is an outer metropolitan type housing development where there should have been a vibrant display of what the current government calls boundless possibilities. They omitted the word “missed”.
A national transport hub at Brewer, with associated industrial estate facilities, with the convergence of three cross national highways, a train facility and an internationally recognised airport have been obvious for years but ignored.
They missed the opportunity to keep the town unique and looks like they will continue to do so.
The need for a visitors centre on the main approach to town as has happened elsewhere, is so obvious, but never considered or numbers researched and the obvious place is the Transport Hall of Fame in conjunction with the welcome rock, the old Ghan engine and cultural centre involving both our Indigenous and Afghan heritages, but ignored as has become usual.
To join all these into one complex would involve around a kilometre of sealed road. Very sad considering what is happening with our competition elsewhere.


Government grant for Todd Tavern, Alice Plaza development
As with the accomodation proposal for hospital staff, this is all accountancy talk – dollar yield per squ metre rather than communal good.
On this basis beware Adelaide House and Flynn Church because you are next, and you don’t pay your way. Definitely uneconomic in accountancy terms, and the same applies to the Alice Plaza.
I still hear talk of the old Bull Bar in the Stuart arms which was an Alice institution.
I have the remains of that institution in the form of a load of bricks re invented as a toilet wall in my back yard and a sign inviting tourists to come in and inspect what’s left of our history – a great lure, and the only sign left.
Hospital staff facilities?
The bus which brings in sick people from communities has to drop them off at the Ross Hostel and they have to walk to the hospital because the bus cannot negotiate the emergency entry. Which comes first?
Dollar returns per square metre vs community good?
That’s the way it has been for years (but others call it greed), or self interest.
Now we have a group of potential food investors coming here to look at rural investments in a time of approaching food scarcity but no research to show them because what could have been a first class facility in arid zone research is now covered with houses (and a bare piece of earth calling itself a drain) and the research is being done elsewhere.
There could have been a world class German solar research facility on the airport land 30 years ago but once more no one bothered to chase it up.
So the quick dollar mentality goes on and will no doubt continue to do so.


Now that the Rock can’t be climbed, visiting it will cost more
What to do in three days at Yulara, except spend money in the resort or join the endless row of buses drinking cheap champers at inflated prices, amidst the fumes from the tour buses?
Go around The Rock three times between meals?
Keep them there so the rest of us can enjoy what is left of the NT.
It is a sad fact that this type of tourism destroys the very thing that the visitors come to see, and creates an artificial scarcity so they can increase prices.
Shortly there will be traffic lights and a four million $ roundabout at the Purnie bore intersection in the Simpson and parking meters at Dalhousie, or toll roads just like home in Melbourne to make our visitors feel comfortable. Boundlessly possible!


Is government fumbling our solar future?
Once again we will be caught short.
SA secured the hydrogen market for the old Chrysler factory in the southern suburbs on the grounds of their “superior” solar radiation.
No-one from here, so far as I am aware, bothered to look.
Now a friend has had his car retrofitted for hydrogen in Adelaide for $4000.
No-one has bothered looking at how we are to cope with the massive number of electric trucks heading our way with impressive economics which will transform our transport industry.
There are claims from Tesla of their semi with a 1.6 million kilometre warranty, a range of 800 km and cost savings over diesel of 21 to 54 cents per km. (See Aust Technology Association.)
And they are only one of many manufacturers. No-one bothers to ask why Coober Pedy has such a massive renewable facility, possibly far beyond its immediate needs. Queensland promoted their solar highway from Brisbane to Cairns many years ago.
WA is busy installing solar plus vanadium flow batteries on remote communities while we pontificate on the pros and cons of gas turbines.
And so the story goes on in other areas. No-one bothers to look at how Israel and Singapore recycle their waste water while we treat fossilised and expensive water as a waste product after using it to flush away our waste.
We deserve what we get.


Heritage Act: not worth the paper it is written on
All the recent developments here and mostly elsewhere have been driven by accountants’ figures as presented in so called feasibility studies based solely on financial yield.
Thus Kilgariff was presented in terms of yield in housing blocks per hectare for the financial benefit of developers, including governments, and we are expected to live in boxes just as on the outskirts of any other major city and and dictated to by a set of accounting figures formulated by someone far away, mainly so that they can on sell property at a profit, and builders can purchase beachside houses elsewhere.
So it will be with future development of Anzac and surrounds, with other parts of our lovely district with facilities based on dollar yield per square metre of land.
The obvious next target will be Flynn Church and Adelaide House because their dollar yield per square metre of land does not justify them in their present form.
We really don’t matter as people.
I can see the Flynn Church as a Sizzler fast food outlet because it yields more per square metre than the church did.
I am still asked by old time tourists where is the old bull bar in the Stuart Arms?
This is what people come here to see and experience, not shopping complexes, (or obscene court buildings), the same as they have at home, the terms of which are dictated to us by financial forces far away and the numbers they create.
Try that in Ballarat with their non monetary historical value sites, but both sides of Government have allowed – even encouraged – that here.
Extreme short sightedness and lack of vision has become the rule in all planning here, and sadly it will continue with industrial land.


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