A West Australian environmental group has come out swinging against a mining giant’s exploration plans along the Darling Scarp, describing the proposal as going “against the public interest”. The WA Forest Alliance has criticised Rio Tinto’s application to search for lithium and other minerals within jarrah forests along the Scarp, including areas not far from the Waroona and Harvey townships. It has applied for 10 separate mining tenements along the Scarp, stretching from just east of Keysbrook in the north to Mumballup near Collie in the south. The total area of the 10 potential tenements is about 92,000ha. WAFA is one of nine groups formally objecting to Rio Tinto’s exploration applications, with the shires of Waroona and Murray alongside the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council some of the other groups who also have raised concerns. WAFA convener Jess Beckerling noted her organisation’s reasons for objecting to the proposals. “The idea of Rio Tinto smashing down old-growth jarrah forests, including spectacular forests right near Dwellingup and along the Nanga Brook is just outrageous — particularly with everything we know about climate change and the value of intact forests,” she said. Ms Beckerling used the State Government’s planned cutting of Alcoa’s water licence by 2.5 billion litres from 2026 in response to declining rainfall as another reason to reject the exploration applications. “The last thing we need is a major new mining company in the region threatening local water supply,” she said. “Climate change is having profound impacts on this incredibly diverse and precious part of the world and there can be no new mining in these forests. “We cannot keep clearing forests and using up scarce water resources and expect regions to stay in good shape.” WAFA argues the application “simply goes against the public interest” and there would be a number of other non-environmental impacts if the exploration went ahead. The matter is going through legal proceedings with a mention hearing taking place at the Perth Mining Warden’s Court on February 3. In announcing its objection to the application last year, the Shire of Waroona said continuing with its objection through the Warden’s Court would require Rio Tinto to disclose important information such as the method of exploration, details of the proposed work program and technical supporting information. Public submissions on the applications can be made at email@example.com. Rio Tinto was contacted for comment.