Earlier this year, the Bay Post/Moruya Examiner covered the controversy around Unity Mining’s proposal to process gold ore concentrate on-site (at the Dargues Reef mine near Major’s Creek) using cyanide. Since the plans for on-site processing were canned on September 8 2015, Regional Fairfax media have fallen silent on the Dargues Mine. But cyanide was just the tip of the iceberg.
According to their Shareholder Report of 28/10/2015, Unity Mining still intends to proceed with the mine itself, along with all the other clauses of ‘Modification 3’. This includes an enlarged, open-air Tailings Storage Facility that will suspend 1.22 megatons (1.22 million tonnes) of toxic mining refuse, containing concentrated levels of arsenic, heavy metals, and other toxic elements in the Deua River / Moruya River catchment.
It must also be made common knowledge that the engineering company contracted by Unity Mining, Knight Piesold, were the original engineers for the Canadian Mt Polley Tailings Storage Facility (TSF), which failed catastrophically on August 4, 2014. Some 25 million tonnes of heavy-metal laden mine tailings mixed with stormwater gushed into the Quesnel & Fraser river systems, poisoning the water supply to entire towns, ending tourism and depressing property value and contaminating marine and mammal habitats and food chains. Canadian media has resoundingly called this the worst environmental disaster in their country’s history.
Knight Piesold is now responsible for the engineering of the Dargues Reef Gold Mine’s TSF, upon whose integrity some 60% of the Eurobodalla’s water supply will depend, along with property value within the Shire, the local tourism industry, agriculture in the Araluen and Deua River Valleys, and the ecosystem of the Deua National Park and beyond,
The Report on Mt Polley Tailings Storage Facility Breach is the definitive scientific investigation into the the causes of the Canadian disaster. Although it was not mandated to name the companies liable, It identifies the original design of the Tailings Storage Facility to be the root cause of the breach. This Review of the above report by the Centre for Science in Public Participation (‘CSP2‘) names the companies found responsible (Knight Piesold and the mine owner/operators, Imperial Metals), as do countless Canadian news articles.
I am a Deua River / Moruya resident who returned to the South Coast this year after working in Canada as a river guide (whitewater rafting). I was in British Columbia at the time of the Mt Polley spill and was in fact floating down an affected river (the Fraser) at the time. I can attest to the effects of that spill and the probable consequences of a similar incident here, i.e. permanent disfigurement to the environment and economy of the region. I can source any of the information given in this email, and am willing to provide more information and/or interview with one of your reporters (I believe it was Carmen McIntosh who covered the issue previously).
This concerns our most fundamental resource, fresh water, and I am aware of no more pressing issue to the region. Please give this due coverage and re-open the debate over the mine’s approval and existence.
Submitted to Fairfax Media 12/11/2015 (edited for this post)