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06/03 - Mine cleans up after rain

After the Environmental protection Agency (EPA) ordered Big Island Mining, the operators of the Dargues Gold Mine at Majors Creek with a clean up notice, the company has been implementing new sediment control measures and erosion mitigation. The company was left exposed with large areas of topsoil removed for the initial construction work for the boxcut, ROM pad and access roads.

The EPA Notice requires the operators to take immediate action to ensure that appropriate environmental controls are in place and are being adhered to.

It requires the company to engage the expert services of a sediment erosion control professional to inspect the site, make recommendations for improvements and performance monitoring.

EPA Chief Environmental Regulator Mark Gifford said that the regulatory action follows a heavy rain incident on February 24 when run off from the site’s earthworks was washed into Spring Creek, a tributary of Majors Creek.

“The EPA received a self-report from the company on February 24, as well as a number of complaints about turbid water being discharged from the mine site and a possible failure of the sediment dam,” Mr Gifford said.

“An inspection by EPA officers the next day found that large areas of track construction did not have sediment and erosion control measures in place, allowing sediment laden water to move through the site.

“The EPA took immediate action to get the company to improve its environmental controls, including issuing a Clean-Up Notice which requires regular progress and compliance reports to the EPA.

“The EPA has also met with the company’s senior management and will continue to monitor the situation onsite, especially in high wet weather events, to ensure the incident does not reoccur.

“This will include water testing of Spring and Majors creeks, random site inspections and following up on any concerns raised by residents.”

EPA personnel were on site last week to inspect the work. The Braidwood Times visited the site on Monday and looked at the system of water storage dams and pumping in place to cope with further rain events. Work on the tailings dam has not yet started.

There are still a couple of months work on the initial boxcut construction before the decline commences.

One of the conditions on the clean up notice was: “Big Island Mining must implement the recommendations of the Specialist which require work to be done in the following areas within the period specified below in relation to those areas.

All perennial watercourse crossings as soon as possible and no later than 6 March 2012. All ephemeral watercourse crossings by as soon as possible and no later than 6 March 2012. All areas of soils of high erosion potential as soon as possible and no later than 11 March 2012. All other areas of the construction site as soon as possible and no later than 20 March 2012.”

Fines for not complying with a Clean-Up Notice are up to $1 million for a corporation and an additional $120,000 for every day that the offence continues.

Anybody who has concerns about potential environmental impacts from the Dargues Reef Mine should call the Enviro Line on 131 555.

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