Pollution fears from gold processing near Canberra

A Canberra goldminer has raised the fears of locals with the
announcement it wants to process ore with cyanide.

Unity Mining was fined three times last year for
environmental breaches, polluting water catchment creeks during pre-development
works on the new Dargues Gold Mine at Majors Creek, east of Canberra.

Managing director Andrew McIlwain said plans were for the ore
to be trucked off site and processed in Parkes, which would require about 2200 trucks
each year.

However, McIlwain indicated this week that the company wants
to build a gold processing plant near the mine, which would reduce traffic and
ongoing transport costs.

“The Dick Dastardly bit about cyanide comes from spy movies
and hangover from the Second World War,” McIlwain said according
to the Canberra Times
.

“It’s potentially toxic, but handled and managed in the right
scenario, it is very safe.”

During the development phase opposition from locals forced
the company to say there would be no final processing done on site.

Downstream landholders have voiced their concerns about the
proposal, with fears the plant would be a pollution risk for food producers and
the Eurobdalla Shire catchment area, with lead, cadmium, zinc, cyanide and dust
the primary risks.

The Land and Environment Court fined Unity Mining $196,000
in penalties and costs for pollution incidents in the Spring and Majors creeks.

Eurobodalla Shire’s director of infrastructure services
Warren Sharpe said Unity would be introducing a new risk to the catchment area,
one in which they were “keenly interested”.

“They are doing their environmental assessment at the moment
and we will be going through those with a fine-tooth comb for sure,” he said.

The Dargues mine is forecast to have a five year life based
on 50,000 ounces per year, and will employ 120 people locally.

Unity Mining will close its Henty gold mine in Tasmania next
year, which is its only producing mine at present.

Image: SMH

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.