Dargues Gold Mine, Majors Creek – Progress Report
Peter Cormick, 1 July 2017
On Wednesday 28 June, the regular quarterly meeting of the Dargues Reef Community Consultative Committee (DRCCC) was held on site at Majors Creek.
The mine is located immediately north of the Majors Creek township and is within the Deua/Moruya River catchment – which, of obvious significance, provides our shire with more than 70% of its drinking water. The purpose of the committee, and all other such committees, is explained in the Community Consultative Committee Guidelines issued by the Department of Planning and Environment.
As a member of the committee, I attended the meeting and you will see from the accompanying copy of the agenda that there are 15 members in all, including those from the company and the local councils (Eurobodalla and Queanbeyan-Palerang) and two newly appointed members: Kathleen Waddell (Araluen) and Richard Roberts (Eurobodalla resident and member of Coastwatches)
The parent company Diversified Minerals’ (DM) subsidiary, Big Island Mining, is the company (the proponent) which has been granted approval to undertake the mining project – according to the terms of the Project Approval. The original Project Approval has been modified three times since it was first granted by the Land and Environment Court on 7 February 2012. The details of the series of modifications can be found on the Department of Planning and Environment website. For those who have the time and inclination, a comparison between the original Project Approval and the current one (resulting from Modifications 1, 2 and 3) will show that there have been extensive amendments since the court order of February 2012, all obtained outside the court itself; essentially by administrative processes. The ‘system’ does not require an appeal to the court for a variation of its order. This elephant in the room, of modifications to a court order without reference to the court, was not even addressed by the Planning Assessment Commission in the course of the latest modification, in 2016, in spite of the issue have been raised during public presentations made to it, at Braidwood.
At the 28 June meeting, community members learnt that the project is no further advanced than it was at the time of the Modification 3 approval in August 2016. Though, on the site visit during the hour prior to the meeting, the committee was told that construction of much of the proposed building infrastructure is to be commenced ‘soon’ and can be expected to be completed within a few months of commencement.
We were also advised that the off-site location of the final processing of the concentrate - using cyanide - has still not been decided on.
A number of questions were asked of the company by committee members, both directly and on behalf of members of the community, the details of which will be provided in the minutes of the meeting – which, according to the CCC guidelines, can be expected to be finalised and available on the DM website four weeks after the meeting.
Because of the particular interest shown by a number of members of the community about potential pollution incidents at the mine site – the effects of which could, if not likely, be experienced downstream of the mine - it is worth mentioning ahead of the minutes becoming available that questions on this subject were answered by reference to the Pollution Incident Response Management Plan, which is expected to be finalised and available within the next two weeks – and will hopefully appear at that time on the DM website.
Any questions on the mine, as well as complaints, can be taken up by phoning the free-call number 1800 732 002. Calls to this number will be answered and attended to by the mine’s environmental officer, Len Sharp.