Thursday, 27 October 2011
The NSW Greens challenge major parties over antimony mines.
Greens candidate for Clarence, Janet Cavanaugh has stated, “One of the key issues we are worried about is the threat posed by mining to our precious water supplies. There is the risk posed by antimony mining on the Dorrigo Plateau to the Coffs-Clarence regional water supply and our estuarine fisheries, and the potential for coal seam gas exploration to drain and poison groundwater reserves as well as wreck important farming land and wildlife habitat.
“Mining needs to be better regulated, to limit these potential impacts. The Greens have introduced a bill to create a 12 month moratorium on coal seam gas exploration across NSW and are calling for a ban on mining within important water catchments.
“The major parties seem unable, or unwilling, to act to protect our land and our water. This by-election is an opportunity for voters to voice their disapproval by casting their vote elsewhere.
The dangers of arsenic and antimony are well documented. “Antimony and many of its compounds are toxic, and the effects of antimony poisoning are similar to arsenic poisoning.... in small doses, antimony causes headaches, dizziness, and depression.’ Wikipedia. According to a 1999 study by the National Academy of Sciences, arsenic in drinking water causes bladder, lung and skin cancer, and may cause kidney and liver cancer. The study also found that arsenic harms the central and peripheral nervous systems, as well as heart and blood vessels, and causes serious skin problems. It also may cause birth defects and reproductive problems.
Anchor Resources a Chinese company is proposing to reopen the Wild Cattle Creek mine with a one and a half km open cut. Wild Cattle Creek flows into the Nymboida River, part of the Clarence River system which supplies water from Sawtell to the Clarence estuary. Antimony is found with arsenic. Once antimony and arsenic are released from the ore and clays they are carried by the high rainfalls of this area to the sea. These elements enter the groundwater in higher than normal concentrations and there are no guarantees they will be permanently contained by ponds or dams at mine sites.
The pollution from the Straits Hillgrove mine has already polluted the Macleay River for millenia. “Staff of the Office of Environment and Heritage in Armidale notified NSW Health, the Premier's regional coordinator and, subsequently, Kempsey Shire Council and appropriate district emergency officers, and began an investigation into the spill from the containment dam at the Hillgrove mine, also an antimony mine.” Greg Pearce, MLC, Hansard.
Greg Pearce, representing the Minister for the Environment, in response to a question from Jeremy Buckingham Greens MLC, has stated, “..historic mining from more than 100 years ago and erosion of highly mineralised soils have deposited a plume of material containing heavy metals in the river system from the Hillgrove area to the Pacific Ocean, an area of approximately 200 kilometres. That is quite a plume. I am further advised that the plume will continue to release elevated levels of heavy metals through physical, biological and chemical processes for millennia.”
Only the NSW Greens have pursued this matter in parliament and demanded this information.
Luke Hartsuyker, Nationals’ Federal MP has extolled the prospect of 60 jobs, during the mine’s construction. We have no knowledge of any published expressed concerns by him for the people, the industries and the river of the Clarence system because of the dangers of this antimony mine.
Clarence Valley Mayor and Nationals pre-selection candidate, Richie Williamson, “Should the mine progress, council will not be taking a back seat on the issue". The Daily Examiner on 5th October 2011. This is hardly a cry to battle to prevent the mine.
Finding a published comment on the dangers of this mine from a Labor Party representative is a fruitless task.
Jeremy Buckingham, Greens MLC, said, “Given plans to reopen the Hillgrove antimony mine and the proposal for a massive new antimony mine at one of the headwaters of the Clarence River, the government must assess and respond to the real and unacceptable risk of further contamination.”