Thursday, 30 June 2011

No problems with any new Wild Cattle Creek tailing dams for antimony mining by-products arsenic and mercury, according to the China Shandong Jinshunda Group

One has to admire the chutzpah of mining corporation China Shandong Jinshunda Group Co Ltd as reported in The Clarence Valley Review on 29 June 2011:

First its spokesperson attempts to distance the mine from those North Coast local government areas in which residents are expressing concern, about the potential for negative environmental and public health impacts from mining for antimony and gold in a high rainfall, elevated and environmentally sensitive area within the Clarence and Nymboida river catchments, by calling it the “Dorrigo” mine.

Then the same spokesperson talks up modern tailing dams despite problems with these dams being experienced both in Australia and overseas and, finally he neglects to point out that the NSW Government allows mine owners to self-assess risk in relation to the design, construction and ongoing maintenance of the same tailing dams.

The primary goal of the DSC, relevant to this Guidance Sheet, is that all prescribed NSW tailings dam owners apply appropriate dam safety management practices to their dams using a risk management approach in line with a whole of Government approach to public safety.
Another goal is that risks to community interests from the potential for dam failure are tolerable, the owner’s determination in this regard being satisfactory to the DSC.
This requires that the risks are detected, identified and assessed, that they are reduced, when necessary, as soon as reasonably practicable and in a way that best  serves community interests, and that they are kept under review throughout the life cycle of the dams.
It is for each dam owner to determine how these goals, including DSC requirements, (see Section 2.2) will be achieved and to demonstrate that the goal has been achieved, or will be achieved following safety improvements. The following sections of this sheet aim to provide guidance to assist dam owners in the achievement of the DSC goals. [NSW Dam Safety Committee, June 2010, “Tailing Dams”,pp2-3]

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Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Energy and Resources Minister Hartcher is a little economical with the truth

On the 29 June 2011 in an article titled Toxic metal hunt at proposed site State Energy and Resources Minister Chris Hartcher's position on any future mining proposal in the Wild Cattle Creek area of the Nymboida sub-catchment of the larger Clarence River catchment was elucidated:

“An exploration licence allows a company to undertake exploration, environmental assessments and feasibility studies only.”
Before any mine was opened strict guidelines had to be adhered to.
"Any future mining proposal would be required to obtain development consent through the relevant consent authority...As part of this process, proponents are required to prepare and submit a comprehensive environmental assessment that assesses all potential impacts of the proposal, including potential impacts on aquifers and water resources as well as cumulative impacts.”
Planning approval rests with the State Government until its plan to scrap Part 3A of the Planning Act is legislated.
Then it would be up to individual councils to sign off on any approval for the proposed mine.
“Local communities and councils are fully involved in the process, with planning approvals going out for public consultation,” Mr Hartcher said.

Unfortunately this is not the entire range of possibilities for progressing any future mining development application within the Nymboida or Clarence River catchment areas.

O'Farrell Government policy documents concerning the repeal of Part 3A of the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 reveal that certain mining proposals will still fall into a category which can attract a State Significant Development (SSD) classification which allows the Minister to ‘call in’ a development application and possibly hand it back to the Planning Assessment Commission or over to the Department of Planning and Infrastructure for determination.

Should any mining proposal in the aforementioned catchment areas be ‘called in’ in this way then:

Under the proposed delegation, the PAC will determine larger and more controversial projects, while senior officers of the Department of Planning and Infrastructure will determine projects which have attracted fewer than 25 submissions by members of the public objecting to the proposal and where the local council has not objected.
[NSW Planning & infrastructure (June 2011) Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Part 3A Repeal) Bill 2011: an overview]

This is a flow chart indicating the more likely route that any development application by China Shandong Jinshunda Group Co Ltd, Sunstar Capital Pty Ltd and Anchor Resources Ltd will take with regard to anitimony mining at Wild Cattle Creek.

Given the background of the mining corporation and Minister Hartcher's previously expressed sentiments on regional mining, I sincerely doubt that local communities will be more than a token consideration in any development determination.


Is Chinese Government policy encouraging mining in the Clarence River catchment in order to conserve its own national resources?

Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Part 3A Repeal) Bill 2011

The major project assessments system

Policy statement: State significant development – procedures
Policy statement: Proposed State significant development and infrastructure classes
Policy statement: Ministerial ‘call in’ for State significant development
Fact sheet

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Monday, 27 June 2011

Is Chinese Government policy encouraging mining in the Clarence River catchment in order to conserve its own national resources?

From North Coast Voices on 25 June 2011:

China Shandong Jinshunda Group Co Ltd as principal shareholder and new 'owner' of Anchor Resources Ltd (through its wholly-owned Australian subsidiary Sunstar Capital Pty Ltd) has been reported as having signalled its intention to mine for antimony in the Nymboida River sub-catchment of the larger Clarence River catchment.

The Australian Government’s National Pollutant Inventory recognises Antimony compounds show toxic properties similar to those of arsenic and sets its safe upper level in water at a maximum of 0.003 mg/L (i.e. 0.000003 g/L) in fresh water and 500 micrograms/L (i.e. 0.0005 g/L) in sea water.

The four mining projects this Chinese-owned mining corporation identifies in the Northern Rivers region are within an estimated 100 kms of Coffs Harbour and, post-takeover, the project at Wild Cattle Creek is 100% owned by Anchor Resources and its majority shareholder Shandong Jinshunda.

This mining group expects that mining processes at Wild Cattle Creek will produce mercury and arsenic as by-products, according to its own scoping study. This same study indicates mineral deposit potential in excess of 2 million tonnes.

Any accidental or adverse weather related catastrophic release of these toxic substances into the Clarence river systems could have longterm consequences for riverine ecosystems, public health and the local commercial fishing industry which supports an estimated 199 jobs and generates in the vicinity of $19.9 million annually.

On 23 June 2011 The Daily Examiner reported:Coffs Harbour's Greens councillor Mark Graham will table a notice of motion at today's council meeting calling for the prohibition of all antimony mining in the Nymboida River catchment, a move that is supported by Clarence Valley Mayor Richie Williamson.Cr Williamson said alarm bells should be ringing as the proposed location of the mine was in an extremely environmentally sensitive area of high rainfall.“With that environmental sensitivity comes a great deal of responsibility that the proposal meets the strictest environmental guidelines,” he said.He said the council would keep a very close eye on any developments involving the proposed mine. “We have invested greatly in the water which we drink and in the catchment,” he said.“We have worked closely with landholders and farmers along the riparian zone of the Nymboida River and its tributaries to ensure water quality has always been improved.”Similar to arsenic in its effects on human health, antimony is a toxic element.Use of the element is limited due to its toxicity, with the growth in micro-electronics seeing demand for antimony rapidly increasing. This demand has seen the price of antimony skyrocket by 300% in the past two years.

The Shandong Jinshunda Group is reputed to have no antimony mining experience and the Chinese Government’s Ministry of Land and Resources suspended (apparently for the third time since 1999) antimony exploration and mining applications until mid-2011, in an action designed to prevent over-exploitation and protect existing resources within its own national borders and possibly to address longstanding pollution concerns.

On 24 April 2011 China Daily reported China will not grant any new licences for prospecting or mining antimony until after 30 June 2012.

The Coffs Harbour City Council Ordinary Monthly Meeting 23 June 2011 NOTICE OF MOTION:


Councillor Mark Graham has given notice of his intention to move:
Recommendation:That Council:
1. Strongly oppose all exploration for, and mining of, Antimony within the catchment of the Nymboida River because of the unacceptable risks to the Regional Water Supply posed by these activities;
2. Inform all relevant authorities of this opposition including directly contacting relevant Ministers, Directors General and agencies with responsibilities for approval and regulation of such activities;
3. Seek the prohibition of all Antimony exploration and mining activities within the NymboidaCatchment to protect the Regional Water Supply from contamination;
4. Inform residents of the City of the unacceptable risks to drinking water quality posed by Antimony mining in the Nymboida Catchment;
5. Approach Clarence Valley Council to seek a partnership for protecting the Regional Water Supply from Antimony contamination.
The majority of the municipal water supply for Coffs Harbour is provided by Shannon Creek Dam, part of the Regional Water Supply Strategy shared with Clarence Valley Council. This 30,000 megalitre dam is located southwest of Grafton. It is an off-river storage reservoir gravity-fed by pipes directly from the Nymboida River. The Nymboida River has its headwaters across 1700 square km of the Dorrigo Plateau, an area renowned as the highest rainfall catchment in NSW.
Anchor Resources Ltd owns the Wild Cattle Creek/Bielsdown project within the headwaters of the Nymboida River, describing it as “an advanced Antimony project”. The company released a scoping study early in 2011 indicating that “positive financial returns are achievable from the project”. Anchor Resources Ltd is currently recommending that shareholders accept a takeover offer from the Chinese minerals company, China Shandong Jinshunda Co Ltd (Jinshunda).
Antimony is a “strategic mineral resource” used for a range of high-tech products such as polymers, fire retardants and electronics. Chinese national interests control over 90% of global supply of Antimony and they are seeking global dominance of all such strategic resources.
Antimony and many of its compounds are toxic; the effects of antimony poisoning are similar to arsenic poisoning. In small doses, antimony causes headaches, dizziness and depression. Larger doses damage the kidneys and the liver, causing violent and frequent vomiting and will lead to death within a few days; otherwise skin contact causes dermatitis. Major Antimony contamination is known from over 50km of the headwaters of the Macleay River to the east of Armidale, emanating from the Hillgrove and Bakers Creek Antimony and Gold mines.
Furthermore Urunga Lagoon immediately south of Coffs Harbour Local Government Area is heavily contaminated with Antimony as a result of a processing plant established there in the 1960s. Both areas have proven impossible to remediate and are gazetted as Contaminated Sites.
The proposal by Anchor Resources Ltd to undertake Antimony mining activities within the headwaters of the Nymboida River is of immense concern, particularly when considering that this catchment provides drinking and potable water for in excess of 100000 residents between Yamba and Sawtell. Of further concern is the extremely high rainfall in the Wild Cattle Creek sub-catchment, some years exceeding 3m of rainfall per annum. It is impossible to prevent migration of toxic minerals from mines established in such high rainfall areas, as evidenced by the high levels of contamination known from the Upper Macleay River, downstream of the Hillgrove Mine.
All efforts must be expended to protect the source of the Regional Water Supply from Antimony contamination, as clean water is the most critical resource for all life. A partnership should be established with Clarence Valley Council as a matter of urgency to prevent contamination of the Regional Water Supply with toxic Antimony.
Staff Comment:
The Executive Manager Coffs Water has compiled information regarding this issue and would be able to provide this to Council at a briefing.

It is understood that Coffs Harbour City Cr. Bill Palmer moved and Cr. John Arkan seconded a motion to defer consideration of Cr. Graham’s motion pending a briefing for councillors.

Local government and residents in the Dorrigo, Coffs Habour and Clarence Valley areas need to be proactive in their response to this proposal and those who are concerned at the prospect of mining within this environmentally sensitive catchment can contact China Shandong Jinshunda Group Co Ltd Chairman of the Board, Wang Gan, at and the NSW Minister for Mining and Agriculture Chris Hartcher at, as well as their own councils and state/federal members of parliament.Media Release 24 February 2011 Wild Cattle Creek Scoping Study Outcomes.

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