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To the Controller of Water Resources,

I am very concerned about the water licence application for 3.3 billion litres of water to be taken from the Roper River each year. This is the latest in a long list of threats to the mighty Roper.

The Roper River flows into Limmen Bight Marine Park sustaining the ecosystem, which includes extensive seagrass beds, home to turtle and dugong populations and habitat for prawns, barramundi and mudcrab. The Territory's great rivers are the lifeblood of our coasts and seas.

I call on you and the NT Government to reject this water extraction licence.

This project has not been referred for an updated environmental impact assessment despite  Australian Ilmenite Resources wanting to take 452 times more water than it currently uses for operating the mine. The last such assessment occurred a decade ago and we now know more about how precious our water is, especially in the face of climate change. 

In 2012 it was identified that the mine risked causing “substantial temporary water quality issues at Ngukurr” and “detrimental impacts on the downstream water quality and ecology”, causing more “cease-to-flow events”(VDM Consulting (2012) Australian Ilmenite Resources Public Environmental Report: Volume One Main Report, pg 44). Today, these risks are much more significant now that a massive expansion has been proposed.

This project is huge and requires a contemporary environmental impact assessment, and it must be considered alongside other industrial proposals to take precious water out of this shared system. Further, a mining management plan is needed and must address the significant environmental issues raised during the 2012 impact assessment. Until this critical work has been done an application for water of any volume cannot be considered. 

This proposal comes at a time when there is already huge pressure on the river from proposals for fracking, cotton, land clearing and mining. Without adequate protections in place, destructive proposals like this threaten the health of the Roper River and Limmen Bight Marine Park. 

The Northern Territory Government needs to listen to communities and deliver the protection our NT rivers and coasts so desperately need. Healthy rivers and coasts are central to our Top End way of life, the great NT fishing experience and our economy. They are critical to our shared future. 

We’ve seen the disastrous impacts of water extraction, dams and irrigated cotton in places like the Murray-Darling River. It would be foolish to repeat them on the Roper. 

Please accept this as my submission on the Australian Ilmenite Resources water extraction licence application.