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02/02 - Majors Creek goldmine agreement

Proponents of a huge underground gold mine east of Canberra say they've made a major breakthrough by securing agreements with two environmental groups, but cannot give a starting date for building the mine.

Cortona Resources says the Majors Creek mine will create 100 jobs during construction and 80 ongoing jobs during production of an estimated 50,000 ounces of gold a year.

The Land and Environment Court is expected to give consent on Tuesday following the agreement between Cortona and The Coastwatchers Association and South East Region Conservation Alliance.

Lawyers representing the mine, NSW Minister for Planning and the two environmental groups reached agreement at a Land and Environment Court hearing on Monday.

The agreement follows an earlier deal with Eurobodalla Shire Council, which had concerns over water quality in the Moruya River catchment.

Lois Katz of the South East Region Conservation Alliance said experts providing evidence on both sides of the debate had agreed on improvements to the tailings dam.

Coastwatchers Association president Sheila Monahan said the agreement would add more environmental protection.

Asked if the tailings dam had been increased from a category three to category one tailings dam, Cortona Resources managing director Peter van der Borgh said the dam met requirements of the NSW Dam Safety Committee.

Key to agreement with objectors was dialogue to explain the science.

''Once they understood that, what we were proposing made more sense.''

He said appeals against the development raised uncertainty, but reaching agreements would instil more confidence with investors in the mine.

He said the owners were not looking for a buyer for the mine.

In a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange, Cortona said design work for the tailings storage facility had been finalised and expressions of interest to build it had been invited.

An operations plan had been submitted to government agencies and the final application for the mining lease was awaiting approval.

''Licensed water bores have been drilled on site in readiness for commencement of construction of the box cut,'' the statement said.

''Additional monitoring bores are planned to be completed shortly.''

Mr van der Borgh said it was difficult to say when construction would begin until all those approvals were made.


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