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A large gold mining operation (Mining license MIN5349) has secretively been given the go ahead in the Wombat State Forest (Victoria, Australia); 2km south of the Bullarto township, in the headwaters of the Heritage listed Lerderderg River. The four hectare open cut mine (half a kilometre long, 100 metres wide and 20 metres deep) has been approved without public consultation.
Given the proposed mines proximity to Crowley Creek and the Lerderderg River, the operation raises issues about erosion, sedimentation and heavy metal contamination of these waterways.
The site is currently covered by forest and provides habitat for a range of native fauna. All native vegetation will be totally destroyed, as well as a large number of wombat burrows that also occur on the site, and we presume along with the wombats that reside in them.
Wombat Forestcare has been led to believe that a small bond of $30,000 is to be paid and considers this to be totally inadequate to ensure that the proposed site is rehabilitated. There are many examples where small mining companies have come in, extracted the gold then the company folds, leaving rehabilitating the site up to the taxpayers.
If the mine goes ahead over 5,000 tonnes of extracted material will be trucked to Maldon for processing. These large trucks undertaking hundreds of trips will be travelling through Bullarto and past the local primary school, yet it appears that no Bullarto residents were consulted. The trucks will then undertake the 80km round trip damaging our local roads. It will be Hepburn residents that will have to foot the bill for road repairs not the mine owners.
Please help to protect the forests, native wildlife and waterways from unnecessary mining destruction by signing our petition.
SUBJET: Approved Gold Mine at Bullarto South (Mining License 5349)
Honorable Michael O'Brien,
I am writing to request that the Works Plan and the Mining Lease for Mining Lease 5349 be rescinded under the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990.
The Works Plan for the gold mining operation has secretly been given the go ahead without any community consultation from the mine owners, DPI or DSE.
The Works Plan for the proposed mine approved by DPI was also totally inadequate in terms of environmental protection, operational details and financial viability of the project. Because the mine is less than five hectares in size an Environmental Effect Statement does not have to be prepared.
The proposed mine is in the headwaters of the Heritage listed Lerderderg River, and adjacent to Crowley Creek, raising serious issues about erosion, sedimentation and heavy metal contamination of these waterways. Heavy metals that may leach into waterways include mercury, cadmium and arsenic.
The site is currently covered by native bushland and provides habitat for a range of native fauna. All native vegetation and most native fauna that live on the site will be totally destroyed, including a number of Wombat burrows and the Wombats that live in them.
Two threatened flora species has been located on the site and another threatened flora species has been located 200 metres from the mine site. The area provides habitat for the threatened Powerful Owl and the old mine shafts on the site may also provide habitat for the critically endangered Common Bent-wing Bat. However, despite recommendations, no fauna or bat surveys have been carried out.
The proposed re-vegetation of the site that has been approved by DSE and DPI is inadequate. The small bond of $30,000 paid by the company is also totally inadequate to ensure that the mine site is rehabilitated once the gold has been extracted.
If the mine goes ahead over 5,000 tonnes of extracted material will be trucked to Maldon for processing. These large trucks undertaking hundreds of trips will be travelling through Bullarto and past the local primary school, yet no Bullarto residents were consulted. The trucks will then undertake the 80km round trip damaging our local roads.
The area in which the mine is located is heavily used by tourists who visit the Lerderderg River, the historic 'Balt Camp' and the forested, mountainous terrain. The proposed route for trucks also includes Camp Road which is designated as a 'self-guided scenic or forest drive' in the Wombat Forest. Being a dirt road, the truck traffic will result in this road becoming a muddy quagmire.
The financial viability of the gold mine is questionable given the scale of the project, the low gold yield (1.0-3.0 grams of gold per tonne of extracted material) and the cost of clearing then rehabilitating the site. It appears that a number of companies have been involved in the relation to the mining lease over the last five years but have pulled out of the project for unknown reasons.
No permanent employment will result from the mine as the mine will only be operation for 3-6 months. Even the temporary employment generated by the mine will be limited. No royalties will be paid to the State government for the gold extracted as gold is exempt from royalties.
Many operational aspects of the mine are also a cause for concern and highlight a lack of expertise and professionalism on behalf the mine operators. They include the issue of ground water, inadequate batter of slopes for the mine pit and inadequate areas for stockpiling of excavated material. No security of safety fencing will be erected around the 20m deep mine pit raising concerns safety issues both in terms of people and animal welfare.
So please rescind Mining Lease 5349 as the overall economic returns of this mining venture fail to justifying the destruction of native vegetation, the loss of habitat, death/injury to wildlife and impacts on waterways that will result from the operation.