Gold mine issues

The intertwining of mining industries within agricultural and tourism regions is always a delicate issue, causing angst in pockets of many communities.
Terramin Australia’s proposal to extract more than $400m of gold from the former Bird in Hand mine at Woodside is no exception, with many local landholders adamantly opposed to the plan.
The arguments of these opponents are more than just emotional pleas, and credit must be given for their initiative to research the impacts of the mine.
Their two biggest concerns are the potential impact on underground water and the possible staining of the clean, green image of the Hills – both of which Inverbrackie Catchment Group chairman Jim Franklin-McEvoy believe have the potential to threaten up to $800m of economic activity in the area.
This claim has been contested by Terramin, which is confident it can manage both groundwater and dust, noise and vibration to have minimum impact on the surrounding industries.
Terramin has a tainted record when it comes to water, with miscalculations during its mining venture at Strathalbyn causing issues at that mine, and so cannot expect to be taken at its word alone when it comes to water security.
However, the company insists that it has learned from that mistake and is committed to protecting the water use of surrounding properties.
There are also numerous examples of mines co-existing with other wine and agricultural regions, such as in the Hunter Valley, which is home to one of the nation’s oldest wine regions and also a plethora of open cut coal mines.
Despite this, the concerns raised by the Hills community are researched and logical and should be seriously considered by Terramin, the State Government and the community during the development of a more advanced proposal.
But the maintenance of the region’s clean and green agricultural image is vital and a series of independent experts must agree there is no possibility of the mine’s activity affecting the region’s water table before it can proceed.
If the water table is harmed, the damage can never be repaired and the painful legacy will last for generations – long after the mining company has packed up and gone.