Controlled Ranger Mine fire is now a conflagaration

Aboriginal art within Kakadu National Park. Image from Tourism NT.

A controlled burn that was set to manage weeds near Energy Resource Australia's Ranger Mine (ASX:ERA) in the Northern Territories has become an out of control fire threatening habitat in the Kakadu National Park and ancient Aboriginal art sites.

The controlled burn, which the company claims was permitted by authorities, was started last week. However, the fire escaped its perimeters and entered the adjoining park.

Kakadu National Park has seen controlled burns for thousands of years to flush out prey or prevent larger, more devastating fires. Vegetation has adapted to fire.

Ranger is located in Australia, 250km East of Darwin. Image from IntelligenceMine.

The Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, a group that manages the disbursement of funds from the Ranger Mine to local aboriginal groups, is still critical of the handling of the blaze.

"ERA's failure to contain this fire demonstrates that nature does not discriminate between a uranium mining lease and a world heritage listed national park," said the group on its Facebook page.

"This is one continuous landscape and this situation has huge implications for the future rehabilitation of the mine site."

A park spokesperson told ABC News that the fire could threaten culturally significant areas. Northern Territories Environment Minister, Gary Higgins, is being briefed on the fire.

Kakadu National Park is located 171 KM southeast of Darwin. The Ranger Mine is surrounded by the park.

Relations between aboriginal groups and the mine have been fraught. A million dollar payment from mine owners, who were seeking more uranium concessions, to aboriginal groups was spurred in 2013. The GAC also severly critized an acid spill at the company during the same year.

Termite mounds still standing after previous fire within Kakadu National Park. Photo by Dustin M. Ramsey released under Creative Commons license.


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Open pit at Ranger Mine.


Flooded mine pits at the Ranger uranium mine, in Kakadu National Park, 2011.