Horizontal Falls to be protected from mining

Mining activity has been banned at the Horizontal Falls in the west Kimberley.

The Mines and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore says the creation of a mining exclusion zone will protect the tourist attraction for years to come.

The falls are created by extreme tides causing water to rush through two narrow gaps, and are considered a unique geographical formation.

The Section 19 order prohibits mining or exploration in a 72-square kilometre area around the popular tourist attraction.

Local charter companies, tourism operators and conservationists were angered last year when a copper mining company started exploration drilling in the area.

Several companies have voluntarily withdrawn their applications to explore, while another has stopped its drilling.

Mr Moore says the companies were supportive.

"We said to them we felt there would be some significant problems for them in the future if they wanted to persist with applications to mine which would in any way affect the Horizontal Falls," he said.

"And, as a result they were very comfortable coming back to the Government and saying well we agree with what you want to do and we'll withdraw our applications." Mr Moore says the mining ban will be reviewed every two years.

"In the meantime, the Government will look at what form of protection is most appropriate into the future, so that we determine once and for all what tenure should apply over the Horizontal Falls," he said.

"By protecting that area I think we're doing the right thing." The Minister says more permanent protection will be investigated.

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