Residents of the Macleay Valley are concerned to hear of the current sale negotiations between Hillgrove mine operators Straits Resources and the interested party, private company Bracken Resources Pty Ltd, given Bracken Resources' proposal to re-open operations at Hillgrove Mine. In view of the current infrastructure present at, topographical nature, and geographical location of this site and the surrounding area, recommencement of mining in this region brings with it significant and undeniable risk of heavy metal contamination to the Macleay River and tributaries.
Hillgrove Mine does not have a recent or past history of providing suitable containment, treatment, or remediation facilities for contaminated sediment and mining byproducts. The mine site is situated in the Armidale-Dumaresq Shire at the headwaters of the Macleay River, and has been responsible through overflows and dam breakages for previous contamination of this river with arsenic contaminated sediment and water such that the downstream village of Bellbrook in the neighbouring Kempsey Shire had to be supplied with a water treatment plant for provision of drinking water.
Out of the 28 000 Kempsey Shire residents, a significant proportion rely upon the Macleay River as a water supply. Numbers of residents have businesses within the tourism industry, and others have properties and livestock similarly dependant upon the continuing cleanliness and maintenance of the river, water catchment, and surrounds.
We recognise the continued and genuine importance of mining to Australia's economy, but request that environmental impact of mining operations be given full and due consideration and priority when mining applications are made, particularly so when waterways and catchment areas such as the Macleay are at risk. Many areas of Australia are still dealing with the poor environmental legacy left from our mining history. There is no need to add to these effects.
Our now Premier, Barry O'Farrell, promised pre-election that "the next Liberal/National government will ensure mining cannot occur in any water catchment area and that any mining leases and exploration permits will reflect that common sense. No ifs, no buts, a guarantee."
We hence call for a common sense recognition of the unsuitability of this site and any proposed sites in the upper Macleay catchment area for mining purposes.