Floods suspend gold mine as recovery continues

Rio Tinto

Catastrophic floods on Australia’s east coast have suspended operations at Aurelia Metals’ Dargues gold mine, 80km east of Canberra, while several major miners donate to recovery efforts.

Dargues comprises an underground mine, processing plant and surface infrastructure approved to process up to 355,000 tonnes of ore per annum.

Aurelia bought the mine from Diversified Minerals for $205 million in November 2020 and produced 21,672 ounces of gold during the second half of 2021.

But record rainfall has now impacted both the mine and the tailing storage facility to fill the TSF to operational storage capacity.

While there has been no negative impact on the environment so far, Aurelia managing director Dan Clifford said further heavy rainfall could lead to a water release into downstream waterways.

“Independent accredited laboratory testing of the accumulated water shows it satisfies the requirements for use as stock water,” Clifford said.

“In addition, we are conducting extensive water quality sampling of the immediate downstream environment in the event of an offsite release.”

The company stated that rainfall is forecast to diminish over the coming days, allowing an evaluation of the appropriate path to resume ore processing.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has predicted the severe weather system will move offshore later in the week, with severe thunderstorms expected before then, with flooding expected to continue.

Major miners lend a hand

In the wake of the devastation seen across New South Wales and Queensland, BHP, Rio Tinto and Glencore have all made generous donations to various flood relief organisations.

The BHP Foundation contributed $2 million to the Australian Red Cross to provide immediate support through evacuation centres, communications, essential supplies (drinking water, food, and clothing), water/sewage treatment, access to power/internet and cleaning supplies.

Glencore provided $2 million towards the Salvation Army’s 2022 Flood Appeal which aims to raise $10 million for flood affected communities.

“We understand how tough it can be to get back on your feet and keep going when something like this happens and we hope our contribution can make things just a little bit easier for those in need,” said chief operating officers for Glencore’s coal, copper and zinc operations in Australia Ian Cribb, Troy Wilson and Matt O’Neill.

Rio Tinto has donated $1.5 million in total to a variety of disaster relief funds, including the Australian Red Cross ($750,000), BizRebuild ($500,000) and Givit ($250,000).

BizRebuild is an initiative by the Business Council of Australia to provide assistance to small and local businesses in the wake of natural disasters.

Givit is a grassroots charity responsible for buying essential items for flood affected communities.

Rio Tinto chief executive Australia Kellie Parker said it was important for Rio Tinto to support these communities who have given the company so much.

“As a company with a proud connection to Queensland, where we employ thousands of people across the state, we want to support those suffering from these devastating floods,” she said.

“Australian Red Cross, BizRebuild and Givit provide crucial assistance to communities in times of crisis, and we hope our donations can support their tireless efforts caring for those affected by the floods.”

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