Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Lock the Gate Alliance to conduct a mining forum, North Coast Regional Botanic Garden, Coffs Harbour at 2pm 31 July 2011

The Coffs Coast Advocate,  Forum to explain mining plan, 27 July 2011:

The Lock the Gate Alliance has convened a Mining the Coffs Coast forum at the North Coast Regional Botanic Garden in Coffs Harbour at 2pm.
Alliance spokesman Michael McNamara said the session was the result of “unprecedented pressure to mine sensitive parts” of our region.
“With proposals to mine coal seam gas throughout the Clarence Valley, antimony in the headwaters of Coffs Harbour's drinking water supply, and gold throughout the forested hinterland, there has never been as much pressure on the mineral resources of the region,” Mr McNamara said.
“There are serious conflicts between mining and the internationally-significant biodiversity of the region and even more serious conflicts between toxic mining practices and the protection of clean water supplies.”
Mr McNamara said he and his wife, Julie, were so passionate about the issue they were undertaking a promotional speaking tour of NSW during August and September to promote National Day of Action on October 16, also the start of National Water Week.....

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Monday, 18 July 2011

Will the O'Farrell Government protect local government investment in NSW North Coast sustainable urban water infrastructure?

There are ninety kilometres (90 km) of underground pipelines linking the Nymboida River with the Shannon Creek Dam in the Clarence Valley, the Rushforth Road Reservoir at South Grafton and the Karangi Dam near Coffs Harbour.  The combined value of this infrastructure to Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour local government has been estimated at $200 million.

On 18 July 2011 The Coffs Coast Advocate reported Coffs Harbour City Cr. Mark Graham as stating:

If these plumes are as reported, then the China Shandong Jinshunda Group Co Ltd through its Australian mining exploration arm, Anchor Resources Ltd, is placing local government investment, an urban water supply (which supports an estimated 3 million residents and visitors/tourists each quarter across Clarence Valley-Coffs Harbour regions) and, a high-value natural environment, at risk even before antimony mining and processing has begun.

According to a report commissioned by Clarence Valley Council in 2008; On average, domestic overnight visitors spent $118 per night, International overnight visitors spent $76 per night and domestic day trippers spent $80 per trip.

Will NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell and Minister for Resources and Energy Chris Hartcher ignore potential risks to the interests of Northern Rivers and Mid-North Coast communities in order to facilitate the interests of this international mining corporation?

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Friday, 8 July 2011

Mining plans in the Clarence River catchment

On 8 July 2011 The Daily Examiner again addressed the subject of mining exploration in the Clarence River catchment in journalist Terry Deefholt's article Gold mine plan causes concern:

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).

“The 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,” she said.

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

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.

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

She also expressed concern about water usage.

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

“What 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.”

Centius Gold's managing director John Slade said the company would conduct aerial magnetic surveys of the Bobo area (south-west of Grafton) in the next couple of weeks with plans to commence drilling shortly after, if the surveys stood up.

Mr Slade said it could take five years of planning, environmental impact statements and decision making before drilling led to a mine.

He said the company would not need to negotiate with any landholders in the next five years because there was enough prospect of gold in state forest areas.

As to concerns about mine tailings, including arsenic, reaching river systems, Mr Slade said the company's gold mining operations “don't touch the water table” unlike coal seam gas.

He said water used to extract gold was pumped into tailings dams unconnected to river systems and the water evaporated over time.

He said the high rainfall of the area would need to be taken into account when planning the size of tailings dams.

An independent geologist's report contained in an Anchor Resources prospectus rates the processing risk of a Bielsdown mine (about 15km north of Dorrigo) as “moderate to high”.

“The mineralisation at Bielsdown contains some mercury, which may be difficult to eliminate from antimony concentrates. If the mercury level in concentrates is too high it could render them unsaleable,” the report said.

A prospectus from Altius mining states the Karangi exploration licence covers at least 150 old gold mines, most of which closed early last century.

“The high grades mined would indicate that there is a strong possibility of developing a number of open-cut mining projects,” the prospectus says.

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Tuesday, 5 July 2011

"Who cops the risk if a tailings dam fails and mercury or other heavy metals spew into the tributaries of the Nymboida River?"

North Coast Voices post on 5 July 2011:

…………wealth is about more than money.
Quality of life and the environment feature pretty high on my agenda. And we need to be mindful of what happens after we sell off the farm. In the case of the proposed antimony and gold mines in the Wild Cattle Creek and Tyringham areas - the mining company would be Chinese, the approving authority the Bellingen Shire Council and most of the workers (and there is unlikely to be too many of them) would probably be based in Coffs.
But who cops the risk if a tailings dam fails and mercury or other heavy metals spew into the tributaries of the Nymboida River?
The Clarence Valley, of course.
And it appears unlikely to receive any of the benefits.
Mining has helped Australia ride out an international financial storm, but we need to be careful that we look at more than dollar signs when considering projects. There's more to lose than a few dollars.

[David Bancroft, Editor, The Daily Examiner 2 July 2011]

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