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Australia to Ban Shale Mining Under Great Barrier Reef

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SYDNEY - Mining for shale oil under the Great Barrier Reef will likely be banned by Australia's government, the Guardian newspaper reported Thursday, citing briefing documents. 

Queensland Energy Resources is building an onshore open-cut rock mine and a demonstration processing plant near Gladstone to determine whether to develop areas holding an estimated 8 billion barrels of shale oil after the state government lifted a moratorium on the shale-oil industry in February. 

But a briefing sent to federal environmental minister Tony Burke seen by the Guardian reportedly says that Canberra has the power to put a brake on the nascent shale-oil industry if it interferes with the reef, which is a world heritage site. 

"World heritage principals on mineral extraction are absolutely clear," the newspaper quotes Mr. Burke as saying. "You can't extract minerals or oil from under the Great Barrier Reef." 

Queensland Energy said it has no plans to mine shale reserves below the high tide line, the Guardian added.

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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