High arsenic levels detected in Stawell gold mine dust

Samples of dust blown offsite from Victoria’s Stawell gold mine have been found to contain high levels of arsenic.

Following complaints in April from residents in the region overdust clouds forming from the mine’s tailing dam, the Earth Resources Regulation (ERR) retrieved and tested samples from surface soil in bushland, trees, and the dam’s edge.

A spokesperson from the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport, and Resources told Australian Mining the level of arsenic detected in the samples were above national standards.

The samples were analysed against the National Environment Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure which outlines that in residential areas with accessible soil, the maximum is 100mg/kg and in recreational areas, the maximum is 300mg/kg.

The Australian health investigation level of arsenic in residential soil was 100mg/kg and 300mg/kg in bushland compared to 373mg/kg in dust samples from trees and 403mg/kg from dust fallout at the edge of the tailings dam.

The results also identified low levels of other contaminants including lead, manganese, cadmium, antimony, nickel, cyanide, and selenium.

ERR compliance officers have been conducting regular audits and inspections on the site to ensure the company is complying with all requirements to prevent the reoccurrence of dust.

The mine has since implemented strategies to control dust such as covering the tailings with dust depressant, and hay bales.

Earlier in May, Kingsgate Consolidated’s gold mine Chatree was forced to close again over suspected metal poisoning. In 2015 the mine was suspended from operations after high levels of arsenic and manganese were found in people living close to the operation.

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