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21/12 - Eurobodalla Shire Council Withdraws Appeal Against Dargues Reef Approval

Cortona Resources has welcomed the Eurobodalla Shire Council's decision to withdraw its action in the Land and Environment Court against the New South Wales Government approval for the Dargues Reef gold mine.

Managing Director Peter van der Borgh said that discussions with the Council had resulted in an agreement to halt the legal action.

Mr van der Borgh thanked the Council for its co-operation in reaching a settlement and noted that the Council acknowledged the responsible approach to environmental protection Cortona has undertaken.

The Council will provide ongoing input on the mine through representation on the Dargues Reef Community Consultation Committee and water monitoring will be detailed in the company's water management plan. Cortona will also assist the Shire in its review of annual environmental data.

Mr van der Borgh said that during discussions with the Council's consultant engineer, the mine process and structure was fully explained. The Council, their independent hydrologist and engineer were satisfied that the mining methods, technologies and monitoring were the best available.

The Council accepted that acid-generating materials will be captured and exported from the site for further processing rather than going to the tailings dam, and waste rock backfilled in the mine voids is unlikely to contain significant acid-bearing minerals. Council also acknowledged that the negligible quantities of reagents used are biodegradable, and that aquifers are unlikely to be interconnected.

He said the Council had adopted a common sense approach and had saved ratepayers a substantial sum in legal fees.

Mr van der Borgh called on the Coastwatchers Association and South East Region Conservation Alliance (SERCA) to likewise meet the company's representatives to have a similar open dialogue so that any concerns that remain can be addressed.

Discussions based on the same approach adopted by the Shire could resolve the issue and save taxpayers who are funding the legal action a lot of money. Reaching an acceptable resolution would see the mine generate a much needed boost to the local economy.

Mr van der Borgh said "Dargues Reef is a small underground mine with processing facilities to only undertake initial processing of ore, with further processing to be completed off site.

"The project is located 13km south of Braidwood on the southern tablelands. The mine size and environmental impact are very small and contained on site. Mine life is expected to be for 7 years and 355,000 tonnes of gold ore will be extracted and processed a year."

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