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Copper mine exploration to recommence

Geoff Helisma |

The NSW Resources Regulator (NSWRR) has lifted suspension notices, at Cangai near Grafton, for two exploration licences held by mining companies Total Mineral Pty Ltd (TMPL) and Total Iron Pty Ltd (TIPL).

The regulator issued a media statement on May 28, advising that remedial work at the exploration site has been completed – allowing Castillo Copper to recommence exploration at the site.

Two exploration licences (8625 and 8635) were suspended in December as a result of John Edwards from Clarence Environment Centre (CEC) notifying the New South Wales Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and alleging environmental breaches at the exploration site.

“Due to a number of serious compliance issues being identified during an inspection … statutory notices were … issued to the companies requiring remedial actions [to] be carried out,” the NSWRR’s media release states.

“All disturbed sites have been effectively rehabilitated, costing approximately $300,000 (excluding GST) and environmental harm has been avoided,” a Castillo Copper media release states.

Castillo Copper described the announcement in relation to its Cangai copper mine as “a positive development [that is] highly complementary with the board’s strategic intent to develop CCZ into a mid-tier copper group focused on CCM [Cangai Copper Mine]” and its Mt Oxide project near Mount Isa and “emerging opportunities in known copper regions in Africa”.

Meanwhile, Castillo Copper “will request a resumption of trading of its shares [on the ASX] once an enforceable undertaking agreement with the NSWRR is finalised”.

“[Castillo Copper] is now in negotiations with NSWRR to secure an enforceable undertaking agreement whereby TMPL and TIPL will each agree to a series of measures to ensure the ongoing safe management of CCM and protect the surrounding environment.

“Upon execution of the enforceable undertaking, CCZ will detail all key terms and request resumption in trading.”

In its media release, NSWRR noted the following alleged breaches during its inspection on November 22, 2018: a lack of sediment and erosion controls; poor management of drill cuttings/waste materials; clearing and excavation works undertaken outside of approved limits; the drilling of five bore holes without approval; and, a failure to progressively rehabilitate in approved time frames.

Castillo Copper says it has completed the following measures over the past six months: implemented controls to ameliorate impacts to the environment associated with prospecting operations; appointed a suitably qualified independent expert to complete a site-based performance and risk assessment of surface disturbances associated with prospecting operations; developed and implemented adequate controls recommended by the independent expert to minimise harm to the environment arising from prospecting activities; submitted a report detailing impacts to the environment identified by the site-based performance and risk assessment, then implemented control actions to ameliorate impacts/minimise risk carried out by an independent expert; and, appointed an independent expert to complete a compliance audit.

The ‘Stop Cangai Mine’ group has said it is “deeply concerned for the health of the Cangai and Jackadgery areas and the Mann and Clarence rivers”.

Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis has previously told the Independent that he “would not support any short term gain from mining activity over the preservation of our environment, particularly if it threatens other industries like tourism and fishing, or our health and well being”.

However, he also said that legislative changes would be necessary to stop any mining, if and when the government approves mining in the area.