Roxby litmus test for BHP Billiton’s reputation

The Australian Conservation Foundation today delivered to BHP Billiton thousands of postcards from concerned Australians calling on Chairman Don Argus AO to demonstrate corporate responsibility in the company's expansion plans for the Roxby Downs uranium mine.

The postcards, delivered on World Wetlands Day, call on BHP Billiton to protect the Great Artesian Basin springs - threatened by a planned massive increase in artesian water extraction - and to give up outdated legal privileges that override a wide range of today's environmental laws, standards and due process.

ACF has also called on Premier Mike Rann to make the same commitment to the public before the South Australian election in March.

"The Big Australian has a chance to deliver on its claim of an 'overriding commitment to environmental responsibility'," said David Noonan, ACF anti-nuclear campaigner.

"The company's corporate reputation will be measured on how it responds to this challenge. BHP Billiton must give up on its plans for a five-fold increase in extraction of water from the Great Artesian Basin to over 150 million litres a day and come out from behind unacceptable legal privileges."

"The proposed water demand for BHP Billiton's Roxby expansion is unprecedented for the Great Artesian Basin and presents a major long-term threat to the viability of flows to the unique GAB springs" said hydrogeologist Dr Gavin Mudd.

"There is no conceivable configuration of extraction from the GAB that could meet the intended water demand for the proposed Roxby expansion without major long-term risks to the fragile ecology of the GAB springs."