A proposed gold mine near Blayney, a farming town in NSW, has come under opposition from locals.
The proposed site – dubbed McPhillamy’s gold mine – would include an open pit and tailings storage, as well as a pipeline to transfer water from a power station in Lithgow.
The mine’s operator, Regis Resources, is hoping to extract roughly 60 million tonnes of ore and produce up to two million ounces of gold during its estimated 11-year lifespan.
But the proposal has faced opposition by local farmers, despite a recommendation for approval from the NSW Department of Planning and Environment. The final decision of approval now rests with the NSW Independent Planning Commission (IPC).
The IPC has heard submissions from nearby residents that the McPhillamy’s mine would have far-reaching consequences on the biodiversity, water sources, and people of the area.
Among the most pressing concerns is the fear that the mine’s tailings dam would cause seepage into the Belubula River.
“They acknowledge that if something does go wrong with the tailings dam it will flow into the Belubula River, they acknowledge that they would be taking water that would otherwise go down the Belubula River and use it on-site,” Belubula headwaters protection group president Daniel Sutton told the IPC hearing.
But the NSW Department of Planning and Environment said it was satisfied that Regis would adequately address these concerns, and implored locals to consider the benefits.
Regis Resources managing director and chief executive officer Jim Beyer told the commission that taking water from Lithgow’s coal mines meant that local supplies would not be used. He further stressed the value of the 90km pipeline to the Blayney Shire region once McPhillamy’s ceased operations.
“The benefits are very significant,” he said. “The concerns are genuine in certain areas, we need to make sure we’ve addressed those.”
Regis has offered voluntary acquisition agreements to 18 people in the area, with eight having been signed.
The hearings are set to end on Wednesday.