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09/08 - MP John Barilaro concerned about cyanide processing at Majors Creek mine

MP John Barilaro won't meet with the miner until after the consultation process in August. Photo: Louise Kennerley  Read more:  Follow us: @canberratimes on Twitter | CanberraTimes on Facebook

MP John Barilaro won't meet with the miner until after the consultation process in August. Photo: Louise Kennerley

Unity Mining lost the community's trust when it broke a commitment not to use cyanide in processing ore at its proposed gold mine at Majors Creek says Member for Monaro, John Barilaro.

NSW Department of Planning and Environment is assessing the miner's application to modify its development to include using cyanide to separate gold from ore.

Unity said only a low concentration of cyanide, once treated in the processing plant, will be pumped into a tailings storage dam which exceeds government guidelines and has capacity to hold more than a 1-in-1000-year downpour.

Mr Barilaro said Unity Mining has every right to modify its approval, but said there's a risk.Advertisement"If there is no cyanide on site, there is no risk, if you bring it on site, regardless of how low the risk may be, there is always a chance of something going wrong," he said.

Mr Barilaro said he would not meet Unity Mining on the issue.

"We have had a number of requests through our electoral office and ministerial office to meet in relation to this mine, I have made it clear while the [assessment] process is happening, and it is out for public consultation I won't be meeting with them, and don't want to be seen one way or the other."

He would not intervene with the process either. "The moment there is political interference for an end result in one particular direction, that could lead to a range of issues across the state."

He is aware some individuals had spoken directly with Premier Mike Baird about the project, and he was comfortable with that, but would not intervene and was satisfied with a tough assessment regime around mining and agriculture.

Mr Barilaro said going back to when the debate over a mine began in 2010 and 2011, he felt the community had struck a compromise. It had accepted the mine was important for jobs in the region, and at the same time not having cyanide processing on site was the compromise, that processing would happen off site.

"I thought that debate had come and gone, a mine was going to be built with protections in place, with no cyanide in sight. When Unity acquired the project they also gave a commitment that there was no chance of cyanide on site. Now that is where it all falls.

"I think when there is a commitment and the community buys into that commitment I think what you have done is lost the trust of the community that 12 months later, you have decided that due to economic reasons, due to a number of other reasons, you decided no, it would be better to put the cyanide on site."

Mr Barilaro said the Araluen valley and water catchment were very important. A spill from the mine could have large impacts on the region.

"The reality is, of course, the tailings dam that is proposed, the engineering design and Unity's reputation down in Tasmania has been one that if you wanted a miner in the area, it would be them," he said.

"And of course they still have to go through an assessment process with both Planning and the Planning Assessment Commission. So my view is I am still concerned, I would rather have no mine there with cyanide processing on site, but there is a process, consultation that is public until the end of August. The government and the independent Planning Assessment Commission will make some sort of determination after that."

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