Mega-everything: the world’s biggest open cut mine
OnLine opinion By Sandra Kanck – 24 August 2009
Tailings storage facility
Fauna mortalities associated with exposure to the acid liquor of the existing tailings dam were 895 in 2005-06, 311 in 2006-07 and 282 in 2007-08. As well as birds, seven species of mammal and eight species of reptiles have been killed.BHP Billiton recognises these figures underplay the impact because of the removal of carcasses by scavengers or the sinking of dead birds before detection. They state “If the habitat is modified or increases in area, the number and diversity of species increases accordingly”. So still more birds and animals will be attracted to the world’s largest tailings dam, and still more of them will die as a consequence.
Undertakings are given to put netting in place to deter birds and for further research into methodologies to reduce the number of fauna deaths. The EIS acknowledges that methodologies used to date have had varied success. Despite this, the EIS appears to be leading the public to accept an increase in deaths as being an inevitable cost we will have to bear.