Lennon joins miner's board

FORMER premier Paul Lennon has joined the board of a Sydney-based company planning to mine bauxite  near Launceston.

Australian Bauxite Ltd has three exploration tenements in the North and hopes to next year open a mine and export bauxite to China for smelting into alumina and then aluminium.

The company has told the stock exchange that Mr Lennon had been appointed as a non-executive director after recent shareholding changes.

The company has signed an agreement with Chinese aluminium refiner Xinfa.

Company chairman and former federal trade minister and treasurer John Dawkins welcomed Mr Lennon's appointment.

Mr Dawkins said he was confident the former premier, treasurer and resource minister would contribute strongly to the company's drive to produce Tasmanian bauxite for domestic and international use.

Australian Bauxite chief executive Ian Levy said earlier this year that the company only explored in areas free of ``socio-environmental'' constraints.

Mr Levy said the mine would be shallow and the exploration area was mainly old grazing land.

The Australian Bauxite website said the company tried to leave land and the environment ``better than we find it'' and ``we only operate where welcomed''.

Mr Lennon, who retired from politics in 2008, was a central figure in promoting the controversial plan by former timber giant Gunns to build a pulp mill in the Tamar Valley.

More recently, environmentalists have protested against mining in the Tarkine.

Also, the new mine could be an indirect competitor to Bell Bay Aluminium, which this year shed workers in response to difficult operating conditions.

Australian Bauxite said its product was highly attractive because it could be smelted at a low temperature, but this would happen in China.

Mr Lennon could not be contacted yesterday.

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