The following article comes from the ABC, journalist Jenni Henderson.
Check here for a background on the project and details on the community consultation process that has been happening. Leaving aside the direct environmental impact of the project, there is the key issue of what impact a large number of large trucks on the narrow Princes Hwy will have on locals and tourists.
Residents of Nowa Nowa and surrounds are expressing mixed feelings about the prospect of the Iron Ore mine being established seven kilometres north of the town. Mining company Eastern Iron is now putting together a feasibility study for the mine and has held community information sessions in Nowa Nowa, Lakes Entrance and Orbost.
The company estimates about 200 people have attended the sessions so far, to learn more about the project.
The mine still requires environmental and planning approval from the State Government.
Neil Smith a Nowa Nowa resident says the community has been ignored in the decision making process so far.
“I’m not just talking about the mining company. The East Gippsland Shire are in the process of negotiating a memorandum of understanding but they don’t see that’s there’s any need to talk to community before they reach an agreement,” he says.
Mr Smith says he feels that there has been no opportunity for the community to reach a consensus on what they want out of the mining project.
“If it’s ten years of mining and ten years of jobs and then nothing except a big hole in the ground and some potential environmental damage then there’s no benefit,” he says.
Nowa Nowa needs the cash flow and employment opportunities a mine would bring, says Paul Oakes, president of the Nowa Nowa and District Business and Tourism Group.
“Nowa Nowa is a very small community; it just needs the funds in. It’s pretty quiet, of course the mills have all been cut right back and forestry is cutting back on the harvesting so it’s sort of shrinking, the area is shrinking really,” he says.
Mr Oakes says the business and tourism group is concerned that East Gippsland Shire Council is representing the Nowa Nowa community in signing a memorandum of understanding with the mining company.
“It’s pretty hard for us to get any services from the shire except the basic ones. We’d prefer the mine to deal directly with the development group that’s here,” he says.
Helen Shields, a Nowa Nowa resident, says the mine proposal has the potential to divide the community.
“Communities always have dreams about things they can do for their area which improve them. Of course people want work, of course people want a future for their children to stay here but nobody’s had those conversations in relation to the mine,” she says.
Ms Shields has concerns about any environmental and social impacts the mine could have on the town.
“If there is explosions happening here 24 hours a day for 10 years I don’t believe that it won’t impact on this catchment area,” she says.