December 19, 2013:
Today the U.S. Export-Import Bank approved US $694 million in financing for the massive Roy’s Hill Mine project in Western Australia over the objections of US conservation groups who charged that the environmental review was flawed and did not comply with US conservation laws.
“Here we go again with the U.S. exporting environmental destruction in order to subsize multi-billion dollar corporations and rich CEOS who don’t even need the money,” said Teri Shore, Program Director at Turtle Island Restoration Network (TIRN – www.seaturtles.org) in California. “The Ex-Im Bank must at least require an environmental review and public process as required on our own soil.”
TIRN and two other conservation groups analyzed the plans for the massive new open-pit iron ore mine, railway and port near Port Hedland and discovered major threats to endangered species, plants, air and water that were not adequately considered or prevented as required under the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA).
TIRN argued that sea turtles and other marine species protected under the ESA that rely on the mangroves and marine habitat in Port Hedland would be harmed by the new port facilities that will be built for shipping iron ore from the mine. Juvenile green and flatback sea turtles were identified as utilizing mangrove habitat where the Roy’s Hill port facility is being built. The extensive dredging required for the port facilities is also likely to harm, harass or otherwise disturb sea turtles and other marine species protected under the ESA.
The U.S. Ex-IM Bank said the US $694 million is going to Roy Hill Holdings of Australia (CEO Gina Rinehart) contingent upon the purchase of U.S. mining and rail equipment from Caterpillar Inc., GE, and Atlas Copco.
Photos: Australian flatbacks nest at Port Hedland on Cemetery Beach and Pretty Pool Beach. Flatbacks are being tagged by mining interests but the data is not public. Australian flatback sea turtle photo by Kerry Hadley. Below – undeveloped wetlands and creek near Port Hedland, Teri Shore photo.