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14/01 - Opposition to On-Site Processing by Darques Gold Mine

I am writing to voice my opposition to the proposed changes to permit on-site processing at the Darques Gold Mine in Major’s Creek.

Before Xmas I attended the meeting arranged by Unity Mining representatives to inform our community regarding the mooted changes.

I listened on in amazement at the flagrant obfuscation and down-playing of the risks to our communities water supply and environment of the proposed cyanide leaching of gold deposits and installation of a heavy metals tailings dam in the headwaters of the Eurobodalla water supply.

My reasons for concern are as follows:

In the first 6 months of operation, Unity Mining had five environmental breaches, three of which resulted in them being prosecuted and fined. Big Island Mining Pty Ltd was convicted after pleading guilty to three water pollution offences which occurred at the Dargues Gold Mine at Majors Creek in

February and March 2013, and was fined almost $200,000.

The Land and Environment Court found that while the environmental harm caused by the incidents was  low,  practical  measures  were  available to minimise  that  harm  and  there appeared to have been a substantial failure to implement these measures. The Court found that the harm was foreseeable and the mine shared culpability with e specialist contractor for the pollution. With such an abysmal track record to date, before any processing is to commence, how can we allow such a company to interfere with our water supply and environment? The Eurobodalla has approx 40,000 residents, which swells to over 120,000 in the tourist season.

Rehabilitation works at another site, Woodvale Ponds, run by the same Mining Company- in one of it’s other guises- is still awaiting commencement more than after 2 years after cessation of mining. Pond 6 at this site has an associated toxic groundwater plume which extends to within 200m of the local waterway Myers Creek. Three members of the environmental review committee have estimated that the company’s bond has been underestimated in the order of $12-15 million. The heavy metals tailings dam is there for all time.

The Araluen valley has a thriving peach industry, cattle farming and environmental tourism. If the cyanide and tailings dam were to ever threaten these endeavours it would spell the closure of all these businesses & jobs. 

I believe this Company is going to set up this mine with the sole purpose of on-selling and profit gouging with no concern for local issues of water supply, environment, or long-term and sustainable employment.

I strongly urge you to insist on an entirely new development application and environmental assessment.

Ms Stephanie Birk


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