Old Gold Revisited Gold Mine Plan Causes Concern; but What Will Be Left in Our Drinking Water?

Article excerpt

Byline: TERRY DEEFHOLTS terry.deefholts@dailyexaminer.com.au

PLANS to build open-cut gold mines in the steep terrain and high rainfall areas of the Orara Valley and near the Little Nymboida River have raised the concerns of well-known Clarence Valley campaigner Judith Melville.

Some of the old gold mine areas targeted are near world heritage-listed rainforest, some is farmland and some is state forest.

Ms Melville, the blog administrator of the community website North Coast Voices, pointed to the prospectus documents of three mining companies, Centius Gold, Anchor Resources and Altius Mining, which have exploration licences for large areas of bushland south and south-west of Grafton (map on page 8).

aThe mining boom has led to an increase in exploration pressures in the Clarence catchment and I have serious concerns over the potential impacts on catchment water and the level of water required to successfully run these mines,a she said.

aA lot of these old mines are based in high elevation with pronounced slopes. How are they going to be stabilised?a

Ms Melville described the State Government's regulations on tailings dams as woefully inadequate, referring to a Dam Safety Committee document which outlines how mine owners had to self-assess the risk to public safety from their tailings dams.

She said even a minor spill of mercury or arsenic into the water system could have a major impact.

aIt's about perception ... can you imagine how quick Sydney restaurants would stop buying Clarence seafood if there was a perception of contamination?a

She also expressed concern about water usage.

aA thumbnail guide is that processing a tonne of ore requires a tonne of water,a Ms Melville said.

aWhat happens in a low-flow regime? Are we going to have less water coming in to support a healthy estuary because these companies want to operate all year round. …