“DANGEROUSLY high levels of arsenic and antimony in Mine Creek, which feeds into Wild Cattle Creek, has ignited debate about antimony mining in an area which leads into the water supply of the Clarence and Coffs Harbour regions.
Wild Cattle Creek is one of the major tributaries of the Nymboida River which leads into the Clarence and also supplies water to Shannon Creek Dam.
A map commissioned by Anchor Resources, the company which is licenced to explore, but not mine the site at Beilsdown, shows Mine Creek at one point had 377 ug/litre (parts per billion) of antimony which is 126 times the Australian and New Zealand Environment Conservation Council's (ANZECC) guidelines for drinking water.
Arsenic levels at the same spot were 85 ug/litre - more than 12 times the ANZECC drinking water guidelines.
This is a section of the map published alongside the quoted article (hat tip to Clarencegirl's friends):
Even I can work out that if past antimony and gold mining in parts of the Clarence River catchment have resulted in persistent pollution which is likely to remain for centuries, then it’s not a brilliant idea to sit back and let the O’Farrell Government in faraway Sydney agree to new mining in the area which can possibly stuff up Clarence waterways and increase health risks faced by local communities and the businesses which keep them afloat.
But lord luvva duck! Sometimes you have to wonder what happens to some men’s spines after they catch a glimpse of a golden chance – the right to strut down Macquarie Street and plant their behinds on the government pews in Parliament House alongside Bazza and his mates.
Faced with evidence from a report commissioned by the Chinese-owned mining exploration company, Anchor Resources, Clarence Valley Mayor and Nationals pre-selection candidate, Richie Williamson, had this to say in The Daily Examiner on 5th October 2011; “Should the mine progress, council will not be taking a back seat on the issue".
Gone is any hint of outright opposition – or heaven forfend, a proactive approach - to this latest threat to the quality and safety of fresh water flowing down the Nymboida River and on into the kitchen taps of Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour homes. Instead there is p*ss weak acceptance that what China wants China gets.
Seems the boys from Anchor really did a number on Richie at that last meeting with council.
The Daily Examiner article goes on to quote concerned North Coast residents:
* John Edwards from the Clarence Environment Centre said antimony was "really deadly stuff".
"By the time they get it out the process has released carcenogenic and toxic chemicals.
"The government and council in particular should be pro-active and lobby government on behalf of residents.
"They said they're going to store all the tailings in catchments - this is a high rainfall area (the highest in NSW) - these things don't work."
Mr Edwards referred to the former Timbarra gold mine which used a similar catchments to store its tailings.
"At the end of the day the thing failed.
"A lot of things have happened over the years and we never seem to learn from it."
* Manager of Clarence River Tourism Jenny Massie said any sort of pollution which impacts on waterways could be devastating to the local tourism industry.
Projects such as Clarence Valley Council's Clarence River Way scheme recognised this, she said.
Ms Massie referred to a 2007 Tourism Profiles for Local Government Areas document which estimated that there was anywhere from 3500 to 7700 tourism industry workers in the valley depending on seasonal variations.
She said nature-based tourism was essential to the area considering the region was 56% national parks.
* "What concerns us the most is that China is closing down most of its antimony mining because of its effect on the environment and the human population.
"But then it's okay to come down and put an antimony mine on the Dorrigo Plateau."
Mr Graham slammed comments by Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker who welcomed the potential creation of 60 jobs from an antimony mine.
"The tourism industry down the Clarence River (rafting, fishing and swimming), the southern-most cane growing lands in Australia and the nationally renowned and highly valuable prawn fishery at the mouth of the Clarence River will all be heavily impacted should this mine proceed," he said.