The independent Planning Assessment Commission met in Braidwood yesterday morning to hear from members of the community and to decide on a proposed modification request for the Dargues Reef Gold Mine near Braidwood which has been changed in direct response to issues raised by the community.
Around 100 people filled the Club auditorium and 14 speakers registered to address the Commission including 4 groups - Braidwood Greens, Coastwatchers, Araluen Valley Producers and Protectors of the Ecosystems Coalition and Majors Creek Catchment Guardians.
They were overwhelmingly speaking against the mine modification.
Dr Emmett O’Loughlin, who had previously uncovered significant errors in the rainfall and evaporation data used by the company in calculating the Tailings Facility, was one of the speakers. He said the company had displayed a “cavalier attitude to environment” and called for an independent agency to supervise it.
The company changed its modification request after addressing community concerns raised during the Department’s consultation by removing the use of cyanide for on-site processing and taking out a proposal for a larger tailings storage facility.
The Commission will now consider the updated modification request which includes:
* increasing the amount of gold extracted at the mine from 1.2 to 1.6 million tonnes
* extending the life of the mine by seven years to 2025
* establishing a new area to store waste rock from the mine
* constructing a new road over Spring Creek to improve access within the site
A Department spokesperson said the original modification application was exhibited between July and August 2015, and then re-exhibited in December 2015 to gain further feedback from the community and government agencies following the changes made to the application.
The key issues raised during the consultation were the use of cyanide, the suitability and design of a larger tailings storage facility, risks to regional water resources, noise impacts on the nearby village of Majors Creek, and the environmental performance of the mining company.
“In response to the 330 community objections the Department consulted further with the company and the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to address the concerns raised,” a spokesperson said.
“This further consultation resulted in the company changing its modification application.
“The Department assessed the amended modification request and all the submissions received concluding that, if the Commission decides to approve the application, the issues can be managed with a number of changes to the original approval conditions.”
The key recommended changes to the conditions include:
* ensuring the approved tailings storage facility and water management infrastructure is designed using the latest rainfall data provided by Bureau of Meteorology and conforms with the requirements of the NSW Dams Safety Committee and the NSW EPA
* establishing six additional groundwater monitoring bores at the tailings storage facility to detect any impacts on water resources
* ensuring that the Water Management Plan, including the Erosion and Sediment Control Plan, are updated to reflect the changes in the site water management rules in consultation with the EPA and Department of Primary Industries
* a requirement for more frequent independent environmental audits, with the team to include an independent expert on erosion and sediment control
Noise impacts on the community were also closely considered. The Department found that the mine would continue to be able to comply with the existing EPA noise limits in the approval.
More information can be found at www.majorprojects.planning.nsw.gov.au
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