New South Wales had the earliest recorded mine in Australia with the Nobby’s Head coal mine from the 1790′s. This first discovery set the tone for a coal dominated mining industry in NSW which is now home to the world’s largest coal export port – Newcastle. Coal mining covers the east coast of NSW, the Illawarra the Lower and Upper Hunter, New England and the Central West. There are also significant gold, lead, zinc and copper deposits that have been mined.
In another world record – in 1885 – Broken Hill in NSW became the birth place of the worlds largest diversified mining company Broken Hill Propriety Limited now BHP Billiton the ‘Big Australian’. Around this time the peak and rise of the Union movement in Australia occurred. It was in Broken Hill, 7 years in to mining that BHP had their first strike – lasting 16 weeks and starting a lifetime of industrial action at BHP mine sites from Illawarra NSW, to Port Headland WA, Bowen Basin Queensland, to Chile, Colombia and South Africa.
The NSW Department of Trade and Investment, Resources and Energy began the Derelict Mines Program in 1974. Despite this program being established relatively early there are sill an estimated 573 legacy mine sites in NSW but we expect that this number is much higher.
There are a number of mines that pose serious environmental and public health risks, in particular the asbestos at Woodsreef and approx 65 abandoned coal mines in the Lower Hunter which have acid mine drainage (AMD).
In 2012 the NSW Auditor Generals report identified that DTIRE had ‘substantially inadequate’ funds to address the ‘contamination liability’ of NSW legacy mines. This has led to new calls for an audit into the total liability of NSW legacy sites and calls for a 2020 deadline to rehabilitate.
In 2011- 2012 there were 27 sites with rehabilitation works done costing $2.1 million. Some of this included Belmont mineral sands, Ardlethan tin open cut mine and the gold mine at Home Rule.
Funds for the Derelict Mines Program have been generated through the acquisition and sale of abandoned mine processing plants, from investing the money within the fund, money from security deposits, and through appropriation of money from the Minerals and Petroleum Administrative Fund by Parliament or approved by the Minister.
There is a 100% mine closure cost bond requirement for all new mines, calculated using a bonds calculator. There are requirements for progressive mine rehabilitation over the life of the mine to avoid future legacy sites."
Cadmium chloride treatment replaced by benign magnesium chloride—a key ingredient in tofu
Clouds Creek's insight:
"...the cadmium chloride can be replaced with magnesium chloride, a benign and extremely cheap alternative ..." "Cadmium chloride is filthy stuff. Its cadmium ions are extremely toxic, causing heart disease, kidney disorders, and a host of other health problems. One accidental spill of the water-soluble compound can wipe out fish from a river. So it is both unfortunate and ironic that cadmium chloride should be essential for manufacturing a promising source of clean energy: thin-film cadmium telluride solar cells. Researchers at the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom have now discovered that the cadmium chloride can be replaced with magnesium chloride, a benign and extremely cheap alternative that could help to cut the cost and environmental impact of thin-film photovoltaics. Magnesium chloride is extracted from seawater, and is used as a low-temperature de-icer for roads or as a coagulant to make tofu. And at roughly US $1 per kilogram in bulk, it is hundreds of times cheaper than cadmium chloride. The new, poison-free process could help thin-film solar cells challenge the dominance of silicon photovoltaics, which make up roughly 90 percent of the world’s solar market but have some serious drawbacks. Silicon does not absorb sunlight particularly well, so modules require layers of very high purity crystals, each more than 150 micrometers thick. The cost of these silicon slabs is hampering efforts to further reduce the price of solar power. .."
ACA | June 02, 2014: It was supposed to be the idyllic Australian community. But now, locals have been dealt a health scare with a foreign owned corporate giant creating a pollution crisis that’s tearing families apart.
Costerfield farmers say toxic dust from Mandalay gold and antimony mine poisoning local community June 3 2014 | ABC Residents of the small farming settlement of Costerfield in central Victoria have said they are being poisoned by toxic dust from a nearby gold and antimony mine.
A WATER quality testing regime will begin to gather data on antimony levels in Wild Cattle Creek and the Bielsdown River before any further mining is undertaken
Clouds Creek's insight:
Baseline water testing in the Blicks River not mentioned in this article. Anchor Resources Ltd is exploring for gold, copper and other minerals in the Clarence River upper catchments. There are a number of small abandoned mine sites in the Blicks River catchments with exploration activities currently being undertaken.
Nature World News Poison-Breathing Bacteria May Be Boon To Industry, Environment RedOrbit The bacteria use elements that are notoriously poisonous to humans, such as antimony and arsenic, in place of oxygen, an ability that lets them survive buried...
Clouds Creek's insight:
Bacteria could provide promise for cleaning up contamination.
Efforts to protect the environment have hit a wall: the unwillingness of the State and the Market to set limits on market abuses and excesses. A Commons-based governance could solve the problem.
CSRWire Talkback Series on GREEN GOVERNANCE
About the Authors: David Bollier is an author, activist and independent scholar of the commons. He is Cofounder of the Commons Strategies Group and blogs at Bollier.org. Burns H. Weston is the Bessie Dutton Murray Distinguished Professor of Law Emeritus & Senior Scholar of the Center for Human Rights at The University of Iowa. Bollier and Weston jointly direct The Commons Law Project.
▶ ECOLOGICAL SURVIVAL, HUMAN RIGHTS, AND THE LAW OF THE COMMONS. The vast majority of the world's scientists agree: we have reached a point in history where we are in grave danger of destroying Earth's life-sustaining capacity. But our attempts to protect natural ecosystems are increasingly ineffective because our very conception of the problem is limited; we treat 'the environment' as its own separate realm, taking for granted prevailing but outmoded conceptions of economics, national sovereignty and international law. Green Governance is a direct response to the mounting calls for a paradigm shift in the way humans relate to the natural environment. It opens the door to a new set of solutions by proposing a compelling new synthesis of environmental protection based on broader notions of economics and human rights and on commons-based governance. Going beyond speculative abstractions, the book proposes a new architecture of environmental law and public policy that is as practical as it is theoretically sound. http://www.csrwire.com/blog/series/56-green-governance-ecological-survival-human-rights-and-the-law-of-the-commons/posts
Proactive Investors Australia Artemis Resources targets antimony resource in new drilling at Eastern Hills Proactive Investors Australia Artemis Resources (ASX: ARV) has launched a 3000 metre reverse circulation drilling program at the Eastern...
The minerals in our electronic devices have bankrolled unspeakable violence in the Congo. (As new iPhones come out, National Geographic has great photos and story on the kids mining their minerals in Congo.
The long term investment case for gold is all about emerging market demand, especially in large countries like China and India. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll keep it short today.
While mining for gold provides a living for millions, it comes at a price - the risk of mercury poisoning, and the destruction of both forest and farmland.
Clouds Creek's insight:
About 15% of the world's gold is produced by artisanal and small-scale miners, most of whom use mercury to extract it from the earth. In Indonesia, the industry supports some three million people - but the miners risk poisoning themselves, their children and the land.
"In 2012 the NSW Auditor Generals report identified that DTIRE had ‘substantially inadequate’ funds to address the ‘contamination liability’ of NSW legacy mines. This has led to new calls for an audit into the total liability of NSW legacy sites and calls for a 2020 deadline to rehabilitate." http://www.mininglegacies.org/mines/nsw/
This petition aims to protect rivers, forest and farmland on the Dorrigo Plateau from the invasion of the mining industry.
The NSW government has allowed unrestricted mineral exploration in a number of east coast water catchments, including the Dorrigo plateau and surrounds.
The township of Dorrigo services a diverse farming, forestry, tourism and arts community with a rich local history. The Gondwana Rainforest World Heritage Dorrigo National Park sits on the escarpment surrounded by scenic farmland on rich red basalt soils. Visitors to the area appreciate the scenic natural beauty, wildlife, bushwalks, farmland views and clear mountain waterfalls.
People who live and work in the rural landscape love the land and know the value of our natural assets. The recent NSW Draft Biophysical Strategic Agricultural Land (BSAL) mapping, released in 2013, fails to protect valuable parts of the farming landscape. The Dorrigo Plateau needs a Strategic Regional Landuse Plan (SRLUP) to limit mining developments in the Clarence catchments.
In 2014 access to farmland by mining companies is being hotly debated in the NSW parliament; proposed amendments to mining legislation will favour mining companies ahead of public interest and the environment. Remind our government that community health and local economies are more important than mining profits.
Sign our petition … To protect the environment and the communities of the Dorrigo Plateau and adjacent water catchment regions from the destructive effects of mining activities by stopping all existing, pending and future mining exploration licences in the invaluable water catchments of the Dorrigo Plateau, which includes World Heritage Areas, State Forests and Reserves. (Currently mining exploration leases cover thousands of hectares of public and private land across the Dorrigo Plateau region.)
(Audio ) "A mine site in the Tarkine wilderness has stopped operations just six months citing falling ore prices and the low Aussie dollar as reasons for the decision. For environmentalists the news is bitter-sweet because the mine has already caused damage through land clearance and construction of acid waste pools.
It also isn't clear how soon the company will be expected to clean up the wilderness.
Featured in story Scott Jordan, Save The Tarkine campaign coordinator "
Mine #economics - rehabilitation or #environmental harm?
As the boom ends, poor oversight and lax bonds leave governments stuck with an enormous bill for mining’s clean-up.
Clouds Creek's insight:
Mina site rehabilitation. Who pays? "Consider Mount Morgan, near Rockhampton in Queensland, at one time the largest goldmine in the world. In the 100 years to 1981 it produced about 262 tonnes of gold, 37 tonnes of silver and 387,000 tonnes of copper, as well as 134 million tonnes of waste rock and overburden. Then the price of gold fell and the price of the cyanide used to extract the gold rose, and the mine’s then-operators walked away, leaving behind the old pit, flooded with billions of litres of acidic water and elevated levels of 18 elements, including lead, cobalt, cadmium, copper, manganese. And there it has stayed – a cocktail of heavy metals in a giant bath of sulfuric acid – with minimal rehabilitation, gradually leaching pollutants. Decades later, long stretches of the nearby Dee River remain highly toxic. And in the big wet of January 2013, when the pit overflowed, there were “impacts”, as the Queensland mines department blandly put it, for 50 kilometres downstream. That is to say, the Dee River turned bright turquoise, killing fish and other wildlife, and leaving behind a poisonous sludge on the streambed."
Massive protests are gripping Romania against the government's controversial decision to pave the way for a Canadian firm to build Europe's largest opencast gold mine – which many fear may lead to an environmental ...
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