The Tasmanian EPA has given a mining company the green light to truck iron ore through vital Tassie devil habitat at night – putting these nocturnal, endangered animals in danger of becoming roadkill! 

We will argue in the Tasmanian Supreme Court on behalf of our client, the Tarkine National Coalition, that this decision was made unlawfully and should be overturned. 

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The case to protect Tasmanian devils from iron ore trucking in the Tarkine 

We are working on this case which is seeking to challenge a decision by the Tasmanian EPA to allow the trucking of iron ore through Tasmanian devil habitat at night, risking the devils being hit by the trucks. 

The takayna / Tarkine region in Tasmania’s northwest is home to numerous unique (and threatened) species, like the Tasmanian devil, and the largest tract of Gondwanan temperate rainforest in the world. In 2010, the Australian Heritage Council recommended the area be National Heritage listed due to its exceptional cultural and natural values. Since that time, our client, the Tarkine National Coalition, has been seeking to protect the area from the impacts of mining and logging.  

Credit: Dan Broun

Back in 2013, EDO represented TNC in an appeal to the planning tribunal about Venture Minerals’ proposed iron ore mine west of Tullah. The appeal raised several arguments against a permit for the mine, including that the permit should be refused due to the likely impacts of the mine trucks on Tasmanian devils in the area. While the planning tribunal ultimately granted a permit for the mine, it was on the condition that the mine would not truck ore at night, when Tasmanian devils are most active. 

On average, approximately one Tasmanian devil dies on the road every night. The decision to allow night trucking through vital devil habitat is like a death-sentence for these nocturnal animals.

For various reasons, the mine did not commence operations until many years later. In 2020, in preparation for the first shipment of ore from the mine, Venture Minerals sought permission from the EPA and the then-federal Environment Minister, Sussan Ley, to vary the conditions so that the company could transport ore at night. TNC only found out about this proposal to vary the conditions because of freedom of information requests it had lodged with the federal Environment Department and the EPA about the mine. Despite providing detailed submissions to the EPA and the federal Minister about why Venture Minerals’ request should be refused due to the impacts on the Tasmanian devils, both the EPA and the Minister authorised the variation of the permit conditions.  

Riley Creek is an open cut iron mine in the Tarkine. Venture Minerals want to use profits from night trucking to fund more mines in the region.

Once we found out about the EPA’s decision, EDO’s legal response sprang into action. On behalf of TNC, we filed an application in Tasmania’s Supreme Court seeking orders setting aside the decision, and a declaration that the mine’s permit had lapsed because it had not commenced in the time allowed under the law.  

This case is a test case testing the limits of the EPA’s powers to weaken environmental protections, and the limits of time to commence works under a permit. The Court’s decision will not only be critical to the outcome of this case – and to the Tassie devils who live in the Tarkine – but it will also potentially have a huge impact on how the EPA regulates large mines and other industrial activities into the future.  

We will be working hard with our barristers, Peter Gray QC and Sophie Molyneaux, in coming months to present this case to the Court.  

Donate to the case to defend Tasmanian devils from becoming roadkill and other legal challenges to protect precious wildlife.

Tassie Devils are still under threat.

Tasmanian devils face extinction. But these endangered animals are at risk of becoming roadkill for mining profits.