The state member for Clarence says calls by the local council for a moratorium on mining in the valley are “rash and ill-considered”.
- A petition against mining in the Clarence Valley has gained 10,000 signatures
- The Clarence Valley Council is calling for a mining moratorium
- The state Nationals MP says every application should be considered on its merit
The Clarence Valley Council recently wrote to the New South Wales government calling for a ban on new mining activity in the area, and a petition calling for the withdrawal of local exploration licences has attracted more than 10,000 signatures.
But Nationals MP Chris Gulaptis said the demands were premature.
“We need to find out what is there, we need to see if the benefits outweigh the risks and we’re never going to know that until such time as an application has been made.
“We just have to be sensible and adult about this and determine it on the basis of facts, and there are no facts at the moment to make such a determination.”
Minerals for renewables
Mr Gulaptis said the current exploration was for resources and minerals used in the manufacture of renewable energy technology.
“So if we want to transition to a renewable energy future, we need these minerals and resources,” he said.
“If every LGA [Local Government Authority] was to say we don’t want it in our backyard, we’d never transition to that future.
“It’s not as if every corner of the Clarence Valley LGA is in a sensitive, pristine area. There are other areas in which I’m sure that mining activity could be suitable.
The companies doing exploration work in the region include: Castillo, which has drilled around the disused Cangai Copper Mine; Corazon, which owns an 80 per cent interest in the Mt Gilmore Copper-Cobalt-Gold Sulphide Project; and Sons of Bavaria, which is exploring the feasibility of extracting metal left inside old tailings near the former Just in Time Mine on Bullgog Mountain at Ewingar, between Casino and Tenterfield.
Community group’s water worries
Shae Fleming, from the Clarence Catchment Alliance, said the group’s main concern was the potential threat to the water supply.
“We are very, very concerned with the contamination of our water, and once that occurs there is no going back,” she said.
“There’s evidence from all over the world and here in Australia where high rainfall floods these tailing dams and releases the chemicals and the acidic tailings that are the result of mineral mining.”
Councillor Greg Clancy said the 10,000-signature petition showed there were strong grounds to request a moratorium on new mine applications.
“We represent the community and the petition … gives you a real indication that there is a good percentage of the valley residents who oppose the mining,” he said.
“I think the government at the moment is very keen to see mining go ahead, although they did buy out the Shenhua licence out on the Liverpool Plains, so there is hope.”