The Clarence Catchment Alliance (CCA) has distributed petitions throughout the Clarence Valley in its quest to protect the Clarence River from potential contamination as a result of future mining in the river’s catchment.
The Mount Gilmore area, at the junction of the Clarence and Mann rivers, is of particular concern.
Environmental breaches during exploration activities, as exposed by the Clarence Environment Centre’s John Edwards, have already resulted in action by the NSW Resources Regulator (NSWRR).
The regulator suspended exploration following an inspection of the site in November 2018 and subsequently suspended exploration activities until it was satisfied the mining companies, Total Mineral Pty Ltd (TMPL) and Total Iron Pty Ltd (TIPL), had rehabilitated the site.
Come May 28, the regulator approved the remediation’s completion, after which Castillo Copper (the overarching company listed on the stock exchange) issued a media release stating: “All disturbed sites have been effectively rehabilitated, costing approximately $300,000 (excluding GST) and environmental harm has been avoided.”
Convenor of CCA – Stop Cangai, Ewingar and Mount Gilmore Mines – Karen von Ahlefeldt said in a media release that that she and like-mined people “are concerned about the health of the Mann and Clarence River systems, tributaries and flood plains”.
“All exploration mining companies are reporting finding large reserves of copper, cobalt and silver at Cangai, Mount Gilmore and Ewingar,” she said.
“Castillo Copper exploring at Cangai is planning on an open cut mine
“If any of these companies are successful in finding financial backing and successfully obtaining a mining licence it could be devastating, putting the Clarence catchment at high risk of contamination from toxic waste poisoning our water, killing or harming our fauna, flora, farming and fishing and tourism industries, as well as our local lifestyle [that] we take for granted, such as clean water for recreational fishing and more.”
Ms von Ahlefeldt said if a licence to mine is issued, “we will have only four weeks to collect and prepare our submissions”.
The ultimate goal regarding the petition, Ms Ahlefeldt said, is to gain 10,000 signatures before a licence is granted so it can be given to Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis and submitted to the NSW state parliament.
Mr Gulaptis told the Independent that he would be “more than happy to submit the petition to parliament”.
“I understand the concerns about mining, given some companies have already breached their exploration licences,” he said.
“I won’t give unqualified support to ‘no mining’, but
does take place, it will have to meet high environmental standards and it must have a ‘social licence’.
“If [mining] does not meet those criteria I won’t support mining in the Clarence Valley.
“I don’t want to see the environment degraded.”
For more information, visit the Clarence Catchment Alliance’s Facebook page.