At the meeting held on 28 June 2017 at the Dargues Gold Mine Site at Majors Creek Road the Dragues Creek Community Consultative Committee welcomed David Carswell, Manager of Land Use Planning from Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council to the meeting to discuss proposed changes to the planning agreement.
David Carswell described the planning agreement which had been originally signed between Big Island Mining and Palerang Council. The agreement included contributions for roads, line marking and public facilities at Braidwood. In December 2016, the Company asked for some of the terms of the planning agreement, including the timing of contributions, to be revised. David noted he asked to attend the CCC meeting for a preliminary understanding of community feedback to the changes.
James Dornan noted that most of the proposed changes are administrative or clarify the dates of contributions. James added the biggest change is to the funds for a community improvement project in Braidwood. The Company proposed that some of the funds dedicated to a community benefit project and currently earmarked as a contribution to the Braidwood Recreation Ground upgrade project could be dedicated to a community benefit project in Majors Creek. It was proposed that $75,000 be provided to a project in Majors Creek. The total contribution for the community benefit project is $375,300. Overall, there are no modifications proposed to the general terms and total funds in the agreement. The Company sought feedback from the CCC on whether they believe the changes to the division of funds is beneficial.
In response to a question from the Chair, David Carswell provided the components of the existing planning agreement, listed below.
$550k for route upgrades including Majors Creek – completed
$15k for line marking – completed
$78k for pavement upkeep during construction – completed
Annual payment for route maintenance
$375,300 for a community benefit project
Payment for waste disposal at Braidwood landfill
David Carswell explained that the changes would be made by either replacing the planning agreement in whole or a deed of variation through Council. David added there will be a minimum for 28 days for formal community feedback on the proposed agreement and Council will review the response to submissions. There will be a few consultation steps as part of this process.
The Chair asked whether the changes in contribution would impact the completion of the Braidwood project. David took the question on notice. Following the meeting David Carswell contacted the CCC, noting:
Since our last community consultation committee meeting for Dargues Gold Mine recent information has become available which indicates that the Braidwood Recreational Ground project is likely to require the entire amount allocated to it under the original Planning Agreement. Consequently there will be insufficient funds to fund another project at Majors Creek as suggested to the meeting.
Peter Harrison commented that the Recreation Ground upgrade was a staged project and, as he understood it, not dependent on funds from Dargues Gold Mine. Peter added the Company’s funds were mostly dedicated to extending the playing surface. It was noted that this extension is still intended and included in the next stage of the project, because it is currently not certain when sufficient Council funds would become available.
CCC members discussed the possible community benefit project at Majors Creek. Belinda Royds that an educational scholarship would be excellent project.
In response to a question from a community member, David Carswell noted that there are a variety of options for the potential funds, which are open to what the community would like. David added the project selected would be determined through a consultation process.
James Dornan added that the decision to change the allocation of the funds had not been made and that there are many steps to go through.
Peter Cormick considered that diverting funds to Majors Creek was a good proposal and sought the rationale on the proportion of funds proposed to be provided provided to the project.
David Carswell responded that the Braidwood Recreation Ground upgrade is a big project, requiring the majority of the funds, and in light of that the split seems reasonable.
Paul Rouse added that Majors Creek is an important area in relation to the mine, because residents had seemed more interested to attend the company-sponsored public meetings.
Len Sharp raised that he had met with the Majors Creek Progress Association. Len shared that the Association was supportive of the proposed change and community consultation with Majors Creek.
Karis Sanderson raised that the Majors Creek community more broadly had not heard any information about the proposed changes. The Chair added a good process for consultation will benefit the Company. CCC members were curious about the proposed changes’ impact on the Braidwood project’s feasibility, particularly noting that it may not be acceptable to the broader community if the Braidwood project could not proceed without the funds. David Carswell responded that no alteration to the funding is available at the moment and that Council had asked the Company to bring the discussion to the CCC. Belinda Royds supported proposed educational scholarships, adding that the existing Braidwood District Education Foundation could facilitate this, and provided some contact details.Peter Harrison raised that the planning agreement was created before the CCC and there probably was not extensive consultation about the funding at the time.David Lever raised that going forward it would be good for all communities to have opportunities to put projects forward to the Company. David requested that the Company provide a mechanism to put projects forward. David Carswell noted a number of matters he would return to Council with. Firstly, that the community should understand that changes to the planning agreement do not compromise the existing agreement. Secondly, a proposed project at Majors Creek should be widely supported. It was agreed that Mine funds intended for Majors Creek would be publicised, and that a village meeting open to all locals would then agree upon how best to allocate and help administer it conjointly with the Mine and the Council. Thirdly, there should be an understanding of the funding status for the next stage of the Braidwood Recreation Ground upgrade. Belinda Royds noted that Council should not rush to spend the money just because it is there, if waiting for an opportune project would deliver better long term impact. .Matters which community representatives wish to raise with Diversified Minerals Questions received from CCC members prior to the meeting were responded to at the meeting. Additionally, there was a discussion about pest management onsite and opportunities for the Company to work with neighbours. Following the main questions Tom Wells queried, what is the estimated cost of post mining rehabilitation and is the bond adequate? James Dornan responded that the bond is assessed and approved by the Division of Resources and Energy and is calculated using the standard cost calculation tool. The figure is included in the Mine Operations Plan and an appendix of the Plan includes the calculations. Len Sharp added that the figure is independently verified by the Department of Resources and Energy. David Lever asked, which major management plans are not finalised? James Dornan responded that the Water Management Plan and Environmental Management Strategy are the two remaining plans required to be updated. The Pollution Incident Response Management Plan will also be finalised within a week or two of the meeting and would then be made available to CCC members. James Dornan added that the Mine Operations Plan includes a rehabilitation plan. James informed the CCC that there has been a change in regulations for Mine Operations Plans (MOP), as such MOPs now focus on rehabilitation plan rather than repeating information provided in other plans and documentation. Matters which Diversified Minerals wishes to raise with the community representatives Len Sharp informed the CCC that the draft Wombat Management Plan would be tabled before the next meeting, adding it will be reviewed internally first. Len will be discussing the plan with Bill Waterhouse prior to sharing it with the CCC. Other business No matters raised. Next Meeting The Chair provided the below dates as a tentative day for a future meeting. Tuesday, 12 September 2017