THERE seem to be no boundaries for which they won’t cross!
Note CAAN highlights! Yep, it’s that bad!
there seems no boundaries for which they won’t cross!
Security breach fears raised over China-backed company mining SA military range
By Chris Uhlmann and Richard Baker
August 25, 2019
A China-backed company mining in South Australia’s Woomera Prohibited Area appears to be in breach of the legal undertakings it made to win access to Australia’s most sensitive military testing range.
*Defence officials have been warned that the company’s own internal review of security of the Cairn Hill mine found a series of potential threats in a new joint-venture, including “the real possibility of electronic eavesdropping”.
*Australian registered but Chinese financed, CU-River Mining secured the mine on the Woomera range under a 2014 permit.
*In 2017, the company struck an $800 million expansion deal with the Australian arm of Chinese steel giant JiuJiang Group to extract millions of tonnes of iron ore.
*JiuJiang Mining Australia’s lawyers met Defence and Foreign Investment Review Board officials in November 2017 to amend CU-River’s approval to reflect the joint-venture financing and those talks were detailed in an application for review board approval in February 2018.
*The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age have obtained the application, which says, “all activities and projects at the Cairn Hill mine will continue to be implemented by CU-River, which will be controlled by its board”.
VIEW MAP OF WOOMERA PROHIBITED AREA AT THE END OF THE ARTICLE
*People familiar with the mine say the financier, JiuJiang, now controls all aspects of the day-to-day operations, even though it has apparently shelved expansion plans in the knowledge that any attempt to do so will trigger revocation of its mining permit.
*The sources say the miners are also in breach of the undertaking to have all personnel vetted by Defence.
Anyone working inside the protected area must complete an application for “approved person status” to Defence with personal details including photo identification, employment history, schooling, details of contact with foreign officials, any travel in the previous two years and the reason for the trip.
*The Herald and The Age have been told of unauthorised Chinese workers visiting the site without Defence approval.
*Although the JiuJiang Group claims to be privately owned, its chairman, Zhao Yujiang, is a prominent Hebei provincial member of the Chinese Communist Party. He is also a deputy to China’s 12th National People’s Congress and has travelled abroad as part of Chinese government delegations.
*Defence has also been warned of concerns raised by an internal review of security at Cairn Hill conducted by an ASIO-accredited company. It highlighted “the real possibility of electronic eavesdropping” on top-secret activities at Woomera through Chinese-manufactured equipment delivered to the mine for assembly.
*One alleged security breach at the mine reported to Defence was the apparent turning off of a CCTV camera for a considerable time by an unidentified employee.
*CU-River Mining last year negotiated a 10-year expansion to its lease over to the Woomera mine. As part of JiuJiang’s backing for CU-River, there is a plan for a disused power station at Port Augusta to be turned into a shipping terminal to load iron ore from Cairn Hill on ships bound for China.
**Australia’s security and intelligence agencies have warned that Woomera is of great interest to foreign countries and recommended any mining activity on the site be conducted by Australian-owned and controlled companies.
*Defence Minister Linda Reynolds last week issued a stark reminder about the Australian government’s power to revoke permits for Woomera access.
**South Australian Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick, who has been pursuing the issue of mining within the Woomera site in Parliament and through the Freedom of Information Act, said the latest revelations about potential security threats and permit breaches warranted an immediate inquiry.
*Senator Patrick said allegations of non-compliance with Defence’s conditions of access to the Woomera Prohibited Area were a matter of serious concern.
“The Woomera Range is Australia’s most important and most secret defence aerospace test area,” he said.
“The security of the range, including protection from electronic eavesdropping, must be guaranteed in all circumstances. Security must come first and mining activity in the WPA should be carried out by Australian-controlled companies under a rigorous protective security regime.
“Documents released to me under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that Defence has raised significant national security concerns about China’s interest in developing the Cairn Hill magnetite mine since at least 2010 – yet Australian government ministers went ahead and authorised the Chinese investment and mining presence on the Woomera Range.
“The Chinese government would never allow an Australian company to set up shop next to China’s secret military test facilities. It’s astounding that the Australian government has allowed Chinese-owned and controlled companies to do just that at Australia’s most secret weapons test range.”
Chris Uhlmann is political editor for Nine News.
Richard Baker is a multi-award winning investigative reporter for The Age.
The Woomera Prohibited Area