Rehabilitation monitoring continues at Waxlip Spur

Earth Resources Regulation has overseen a range of routine maintenance and annual works at the Waxlip Spur former mine site and nearby tailings storage facility in East Gippsland.

The organisation is Victoria’s regulator of exploration, mining, quarrying, petroleum, recreational prospecting and other earth resource activities.

Waxlip Spur was part of the Benambra mine, operated by Denehurst as an underground base metal mine from 1992 to 1996. During operations, 927,000 tonnes of ore was processed on site to produce copper and zinc concentrate, and nearly 700,000 tonnes of tailings from the process plant was delivered by pipeline to a nearby tailings dam.

The mine is located in the remote upper catchment of the Tambo River, about 15 km east of the town of Benambra and 23 km north-east of Omeo.

Local Ensay contractor JA Commins & Co has completed the works, which includes maintenance of access roads and vegetation management.

A key focus of work has involved ensuring the spillway and dam embankment for the tailings storage facility are free from trees and larger shrubs, which is necessary to protect the long term integrity of this type of dam structure.

Earth Resources Regulation also carried out an annual surveillance inspection to ensure it does not present any long-term risks to the environment or water flows downstream of the Tambo River.

The inspection was undertaken by a specialist dams engineer to ensure the structure meets contemporary engineering standards and to identify if any additional works are required to ensure its safety and stability into the future.

Earth Resources Regulation continues to monitor and maintain the former copper-zinc mining sites since the operator went into administration and defaulted on their rehabilitation obligations in the 1990s.

The tailings storage facility was rehabilitated in 2006 and the dam continues to be maintained and monitored by Earth Resources Regulation including regular water quality monitoring.

The sites continue to have mining potential and the Stockman Project awaits a final investment decision. A new mining licence was renewed in 2017 and an infrastructure mining licence for the storage site was granted in 2018.

Earth Resources Regulation executive director Anthony Hurst said important maintenance work continues at the Waxlip Spur former mine site and nearby tailings storage facility to ensure these sites remain safe and stable, in line with engineering and environmental standards.

“Most mining licensees do the right thing to rehabilitate their sites, the regulator is here to step in to rehabilitate sites if an operator defaults on their obligations by abandoning a site,” he said.

“Protecting the community and environment is our focus and we will continue to manage the Benambra sites proactively, using local businesses who know the high-country terrain to assist where possible.”

 

About Ray Chan

Editor of industrial titles and mastheads with Prime Creative Media. Publications include Rail Express and Australian Mining (web content).

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