Save Ancient Australian Cave Art from Uranium Mining

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Target: Tony Burke, Australian Minister of the Environment

Goal: Prevent uranium mining project from harming ancient cave art

A new Australian uranium deposit was discovered recently by Cameco, a Canadian mining company. Nearby caves in the tropical, sparsely-populated region contain prehistoric artwork, which may be threatened by uranium exploration. The art is striking in that much of it is visibly well-preserved. Scientists believe some of the rock paintings, numbering in the thousands, are 15,000 years old. Others are more recent, depicting the first Europeans who came to Australia.

Ancestors of the continent’s aboriginal peoples created ancient Australian cave art, and this demographic is most keenly aware of how important the preservation of the caves may be to their ancestral heritage. According to archaeologists who work with aboriginal Australians in the region, the cave art is at risk thanks to dust and a population boom created by the nearby mining activities.

Uranium mining companies have maintained an interest in Australia for years. The continent has the largest deposits of uranium found anywhere in the world. Most of the uranium discovered in Australia is exported to Chinese markets and used for that country’s enormous energy needs.

The government of Australia keeps poor inventory of rock paintings throughout the country, and provides few protections to preserve these works of art. However, there is still time to prevent Cameco from embarking on a new mining project in the region. Although it has discovered uranium deposits, the company has yet to apply to the government for clearance to begin mining. Other mining companies have already withdrawn plans to excavate in the area due to aboriginal activism. Help these efforts by asking Australian leaders to deny Cameco clearance to mine uranium near ancient cave paintings.

PETITION LETTER

Dear Mr. Burke,

Canadian mining company Cameco recently discovered a large uranium deposit nearby ancient aboriginal cave paintings in Australia’s Wellington Range. Although uranium excavation and exportation is profitable for Australian businesses, Cameco’s mining project will do irreparable damage to the cave art, which is unlike ancient rock paintings anywhere in the world. The cave art in the Wellington Range is remarkably well-preserved, and some pieces are 15,000 years old.

Scientists believe the dust and human activity associated with the mining process will seriously damage the ancient art. Aboriginal people who work with archaeologists to preserve the region’s cave art have already prevented other mining companies from excavating uranium in the area. Cameco must be denied also. Please prevent uranium mining from destroying these ancient rock paintings.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Whinging Pom via Wikimedia

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