LEAD Action News
LEAD Action News vol 11 Number 3, June 2011, ISSN 1324-6011
Incorporating Lead Aware Times (ISSN 1440-4966) & Lead Advisory Service News (ISSN 1440-0561)
The journal of The LEAD (Lead Education and Abatement Design) Group Inc.
Editor: Anne Roberts

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  Letters: Why arenít highly toxic lead ore and concentrates required to have export licenses?

From: The LEAD Group Inc.

Sent: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 6:40 PM

To: (Dr. Sally Talbot, MLC, is Shadow Minister for Environment in the Parliament of West Australia)

Subject: Suggestion to only license lead ore and concentrate exports if the receiving facility is safe 

Dear Dr. Talbot,

Please reply to let me know you have received this email.

I read at http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/
 that you have said ďthere was only one way to safely transport lead, and the government had to revisit the issue. The reality is that lead in any form other than solid ingots is extremely dangerous to transport," she told AAP."

It would be terrific if you could have a word with Prime Minister Julia Gillard or the Honourable Tony Burke to request that all lead mine or smelter exports from Australia should be licensed, because the reality is that the only form of lead export that IS currently licensed (by the federal government - the only level of government that does require such licences) is lead waste, which is usually in the relatively "safe" form of used lead acid batteries.

I find it appalling that the unsealed lead carbonate dust that passed through the Port of Esperance, plus the bagged lead carbonate dust that has been going through Fremantle, are "out-of-sight, out-of-mind" as soon as they leave our shores. Why should hazardous lead waste exports such as batteries be the only type of lead export to be licensed when the lead carbonate or lead sulphide ores and concentrates that are shipped from Australian ports are in a far more hazardous form? Although some Australian-operating lead mining and smelting companies would claim that they have stewardship policies, under those policies lead concentrates from Mt Isa being shipped to the UK where the smelted lead is then made into the lead additive for petrol. As leaded petrol therefore, Australian lead still poisons a quarter of a billion people in those remaining countries where leaded petrol is still permitted to be sold.

For lead waste, it is only when the Australian government steps in and determines whether the specific lead recycling facility is in an importing country with adequate OH&S and environmental protection legislation and enforcement, that Australians can have any confidence that our lead is being processed safely overseas - that we are not exporting toxic problems for the locals. To date, the only export licence that has been granted is for a company that exports to New Zealand. When recycling facilities in our other neighbouring countries have been proposed as the destination for used batteries, they have failed the stringent criteria that the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC) applies to the lead recycling facility overseas before licensing an Australian exporter to send lead waste to that facility.

When it comes to our lead mine or smelter exports, however, the government doesn't even seem to keep records of which facilities our lead exports go to - at least, when I asked the Port Authority where the lead carbonate that was exported via the Port of Esperance was going, I was not given an answer and certainly, Magellan refused to tell me.

I hate to think of the damage that Wiluna lead has already caused in China and other importing countries. How could anyone imagine that lead is safely smelted in China when so many Chinese smelters have been closed down following hospitalisation of surrounding residents due to lead poisoning?

Why do we apply one rule to "safe" lead exports and no rule to highly hazardous lead exports, in relation to the receiving facilities? Surely we don't only care about Australians who live near our lead exporting ports?

As an Australian citizen who cares about children everywhere reaching their IQ potential and adults everywhere reaching their longevity potential, and who also cares about protecting the environment from lead (whether in Australia or China or anywhere), I implore you to write to the powers that be in Canberra, and request that ALL lead exports from Australia be licensed after assessment that the receiving facilities (ports, transfer stations, smelters, foundries, lead manufacturing plants etc) are not spreading Australian lead into their surrounding communities and their local environments.

Maybe your idea will result in Magellan or Ivernia setting up a state-of-the-art smelter in Western Australia but that is not going to happen overnight, and I think Port Pirie has enough lead problems already, so my suggestion would allow a quicker resumption of exports after WA OEPA have ensured their conditions are once again being met.

Kind regards and thanks for your thoughtful input to date into making these exports safe.

Can you please let me know your response to this suggestion?

Yours Sincerely
Elizabeth O'Brien,
President, The LEAD Group Inc.
PO Box 161 Summer Hill NSW 2130 Australia
Ph +61 2 9716 0132 Freecall 1800 626086


From: The LEAD Group Inc.
Sent: Friday, January 28, 2011 3:39 PM

To: Barbara Wilson

Subject: URGENT Fw: Suggestion to only license lead ore and concentrate exports if the receiving facility is safe

Dear Barb,

Iíd be very grateful if you could ensure that Sally sees the following email.

Thanking you
Elizabeth O'Brien

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Last Updated 25 January 2012
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