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Revival of Kimberley coal mining ambitions not on the table, WA Environment Minister says

Tom Zaunmayr -

WA's Environment Minister has poured cold water on the prospect of reviving coal mining ambitions in the Kimberley's Fitzroy Valley.

Traditional Owners have long held concern over a proposed thermal coal mine close to the Fitzroy River dubbed the Duchess Paradise Project which, if constructed, would be the first such mine in the region.

The Rey Resources project 200km south-east of Derby started to gain steam in 2009 and was withdrawn in 2016 amid heavy criticism from environmental groups, but remains under an application of mining lease.

Speaking on a recent trip to Broome, Environment Minister Reece Whitby said he saw no circumstances where coal mining would be approved in the region.

"It exists in Collie, and as you know we're phasing out the Collie coal as a driver of, a creation, of energy in Western Australia," he said.

"So, look, I can't see that. We're moving away from coal.

"We need to have renewable energy and that is the way forward."

Walalakoo Aboriginal Corporation chairman Robert Watson said he hoped Mr Whitby's comments were the final nail in the coffin for the project.

"What we know of coal mining across the world in pristine environments, to be able to safely say there is no impact on the surrounding environment is almost unrealistic," he said.

"The Fitzroy River has survived for eons, it survived 145 years of pastoralism, it is still in a relatively healthy state... and coal mining is really not the type of resource we would like to see extracted from there.

"Those comments are welcomed to hear this from our minister and we hope this becomes a value Western Australia adopts.

Mr Watson said coal mining would likely have caused irreversible damage to the Fitzroy River.

Shire of Derby-West Kimberley president Geoff Haerewa said he was comfortable with the WA government's position on coal mining in the region.

Rey Resources did not respond to requests for comment.

With Fierra Surrao

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