Mining protesters out in force

Protesters fearful of the impact of mining on the State's agriculture march in Adelaide on Saturday in an effort to have their voices heard by those in the city and around the State.
Protesters fearful of the impact of mining on the State's agriculture march in Adelaide on Saturday in an effort to have their voices heard by those in the city and around the State.

PROTESTERS turned out in force for a rally against mining on August 2 - but they've been branded ignorant by the SA Chamber of Mines and Energy.

In a statement following the Saturday rally and march at Adelaide's Parliament House and city centre the chamber's chief executive Jason Kuchel was scathing in standing up for the mining sector.

"Opposition to SA's mining and oil and gas sectors demonstrated by several hundred people participating in the rally ignores a decades long partnership between SA's resources sector and our agricultural industry," he said. 

"Participants in the rally overlook the many benefits that resources exploration and production brings to regional communities. 

"Opponents to mining and oil and gas ignore the countless number of people desperately looking forward to the jobs and economic benefits that increased mining and oil and gas activity in this State will bring to their regions." 

But those against mining have remained strong in their convictions.

Agricultural advocate Anne Daw spoke at the weekend's rally, launching an attack of her own against the politicians allowing mining on SA's agricultural land.

"Seventy politicians were formally invited to the rally, only 14 bothered to reply," she said.

"It is clear that many politicians have no regard for our food and water security, keeping it clean and green for future generations."

State Mining Minister Tom Koutsantonis came in for particular criticism.

"Mr Koutsantonis was formally invited to speak today," Mrs Daw told the rally.

"He rang at 5.15pm last night and said we need to agree to disagree.

"Not good enough Mr Koutsantonis!"

She branded mining as "ecocide" - compromising valuable natural resources.

"(It is) extensive damage or destruction of ecosystems by human causes," Mrs Daw said.

Then she defended the rights of farmers and outlined her belief they are getting a raw deal with mining on their lands.

"Farmers have virtually no rights," Mrs Daw said.

"This is an appalling state of much longer do rural communities need to be put through hell, not knowing if they are going to lose their precious water, or have to live daily with contaminated air, soil or dust?

"How much longer do they have to face the possibility of losing their farms that have often been in families for generations?

"How many more farmers, will Australia lose to suicides, because they see a future with no hope?"

Mr Kuchel strongly opposed this point of view.

"Our industry is proud of an excellent track record in helping farmers, particularly during times of drought, and in co-existing with existing agricultural industries as demonstrated by current and past operations in SA," he said. 

"This support has come in the form of providing off-farm income; helping to provide mechanisms to sustain generational farming; bringing infrastructure which can also be used by other industries; and sustaining the social fabric of regions by arresting the population decline in much of SA."

He concluded the State's economy depended on the mining industry.

"The South Australian economy was built on mining, and resources is one of very few industries now capable of expanding to provide the jobs and revenues needed to repair our economy," Mr Kuchel said.

"Mining and oil and gas exploration and production can, and must, co-exist alongside established agricultural industries, as it has done in the past."