A fine handed to Venture Minerals following compliance failures has been condemned as both inadequate and ineffective by Bob Brown Foundation.
"Venture has been caught red-handed, wilfully failing to meet conditions of its approval, including a requirement to pay compensation of $144,000 to the Save the Devil Fund for unavoidable impacts of the mining operation on the endangered Tasmanian Devil", said takayna / Tarkine Campaigner Scott Jordan.
"The laughable fine of just $25,200 would barely cover the interest on the defaulted funds and provides no deterrent to the company for failing to comply with such conditions in the future".
"The public deserves to know that when a project is approved with a set of approval conditions that they cannot simply disregard those conditions. This small fine makes a mockery of the EPBC Act."
While the Department found Venture to have breached the permit conditions that required it to alert the Department when it commenced mining and pay funds to the Save the Devil Fund, Venture Minerals told the Department in at least five annual reports that it was complying with those conditions or that they were “not applicable.”
“This raises the question of what action the Minister and the Department is taking to respond to the allegation that Venture has actively sought to mislead the Department about the status of its mining operation,” said Mr Jordan.
The provision of false or misleading information to the Department is a serious offence under the EPBC Act, with maximum penalties of up to $126,000 for a corporation, or two years imprisonment for an individual.
"If there is evidence that Venture has lied in its annual reports, we would call on the Department to prosecute the company to the full extent of the law. If Venture is prosecuted and found guilty, we would expect that Minister Ley would permanently revoke its approval."