Thirteen arrested at SA mine protests

ABC News July 17, 2012

Thirteen anti-uranium activists have been arrested on the fourth day of protests against plans to expand the Olympic Dam mine in outback South Australia.

Six people were taken into custody when they refused to move from the roadway this morning, causing mine traffic to be directed onto a dirt road around them for an hour and a half.

Seven more arrests were made a few hours later as police tried to move protesters who had started playing cricket on the road and chanting "uranium in un-Australian, it's just not cricket".

Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Smith says the protesters threw objects at police.

"Today they've absolutely refused to discuss anything with us at all and they're just taking action into their own hands so naturally we need to respond," he said.

He says when police tried to move the protesters from the road, some in the group refused.

"That just shows the demeanour of these people," he said.

"They will just go to any end regardless of how calm we stay."

Protest organiser Nectaria Calan says it was the police who caused the two groups to clash.

"We feel that police have escalated it today," she said.

"It was very unreasonable, it was a show of force just for the sake of it."

Extra police, horses and police wagons had been taken to the area as the protest entered its fourth day.

The demonstrators are opposed to a planned expansion of the copper, uranium and gold mine operated by BHP Billiton.

Late on Monday, security guards and police kept watch as about 350 people broke a lock to get through an exterior fence at the mine site.

But the group was prevented from reaching the mine itself by the main reinforced steel gate.

BHP Billiton said mine production had not been affected by the protest.

The demonstrators have given an indication they might stay in the region for longer than first flagged.

A protest organiser also says they no longer plan to tell police of their demonstration plans in advance.