A copper and gold mining company in Cobar was fined $100,000 in the Land and Environment Court last week after it pleaded guilty to a water pollution charge.
The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) prompted the charges against Peak Gold Mines when the company sent out tailings into a clean water drain while carrying out improvements of the mine’s tailing storage facility.
It happened when contractors were doing construction work at the mine, the Daily Liberal reported.
The company has to pay $50,000 to the Cobar Shire Council for the extension of its Effluent Re-Use Scheme.
It has to pay a further $52,000 in prosecution expenses and $4567 in investigation expenses.
It also has to publish the particulars of the incident in various newspapers.
The EPA’S chief environmental regulator Mark Gifford is pleased with the penalty and it sends a warning that mining companies must be careful in adhering to environmental protection rules.
“Peak Gold Mines could have prevented the offence by making sure their contractor was informed of and complied with environment protection procedures when doing works at the mine site,” Gifford said.
“The company should have also conducted more rigorous inspections of the mine’s tailings storage facility upgrade to make sure an appropriate diversion drain was put in place as well as a plan to prevent pollution from occurring.
“Although the degree of environmental harm was not significant, tailings were still discharged into the clean water drain and dispersed into bushland onsite.”
Peak Gold Mines has already carried out a successful clean-up operation and is collaborating with EPA officers to prevent such occurrences in the future, Gifford added.
Tailings occur during the processing of mined minerals and have chemicals like acid material, cyanide and heavy metals like copper, zinc and iron.
It should be kept away from clean water as a rule.