UPDATE ON JACKIE FRENCH'S VALLEY August 04 2015
It is hard to ask for help again, but there is no choice. I am frightened for the life and safety of those I love. I am frightened for myself, too. If you value a rich farming valley, a Conservation area that is a major corridor for migrating birds and endangered species, or my work and wish it to continue, we desperately need your help.
Three years ago Coastwatchers and SERCA won stringent conditions for a proposed gold mine to operate above our valley home. We thought we should be safe.
But the sediment dams failed in the first three day rainfall. In the six months before work halted in 2013, large drifts of sediment filled the deep holes of the gorge to about a third of their depth. Much is still there. The company was convicted in the Land and Environment Court for three pollution events.
Now the company wish to change the Conditions of approval of that mining venture by Modification to allow them to process the gold ore on site, using cyanide. Instead of the heavy metals lead, zinc, cadmium, uranium and other potentially deadly heavy metals being trucked, these heavy metals will sit in a tailings dam on the steep site at the top of the Major’s Creek/Deua/Morura catchment, above Eurobodalla’s water supply, and farms and businesses and households.
If --or when- there is an overflow, this tailings dam is only ten minutes away from us as the water rushes down the slope below the mine site and over the escarpment.
One major cyanide spill could be deadly to us, to our near neighbours and to the endangered wildlife of the valley. An accumulation of small spills will be deadly too, as the heavy metals gradually build up in the soil t of the riverside farms and orchards, to harm today's children and children as yet unborn.
Unity Mining does not pretend there will be no spills. It admits there will be, but says that they will be diluted by rain. This is unproven and even if it were to be the case it presumes the spills will occur when it is raining- a rash assumption in this area. The company ignores the fact that as they refused to test the creek on our property during and after the previous the pollution events they did not see that as the water slows and reaches the pools, the pollution can be even worse than on the steep land immediately below the mine site as the water slows and the heavy material settles or fills the pools.
Nor have the company seen how thunder storms break above their site, sending flash floods far greater than their estimate of 1 in 1,000 year events crashing down a dry watercourse.
Given the history of work on the site in 2013, a major failure or series of small failures seems inevitable. So called ‘world’s best practice conditions’ failed in 2013. Why will it be different now?
Cyanide processing or ore rich in heavy metals should not happen next to a village above a major farming and tourism area..
A cost-benefit analysis should be done to see what would be gained in exchange for running these risks. One insignificant cyanide processing plant threatens businesses ... including the production of my books ... that bring in far more money to NSW and Australia than would be returned to the public coffers by mining royalties or job creation.
Cyanide processing of ore containing lead, zinc, uranium, arsenic, copper should not be allowed in the water catchment system that supplies water to a hundred thousand people nor above a NSW State Conservation Area with twenty-three rare, vulnerable, endangered and critically endangered species reliant on it and is a major bird migration corridor.
Once the tailings dam is built above us by a company with five pollution episodes that affected the creek below their site for most of the six months they operated in 2013 in the six months they operated I could not, and would not, ask others to risk coming to our property. But I will stay, because I am too much part of this land to leave.
Submissions to the Modification must be made by 26 August . through the
Department of Planning and Environment website:
Project Application number is 10 0054 MOD 3.
Use the online submissions form at:
If you have trouble with this process pone the Planning Information Centre 1300 305 695 or
Contact Officer: Phillipa Duncan 02 9228 6451
Objections can also be posted.
Quote: Project Application number is 10 0054 MOD 3.
Send them to Planning Services
Department of Planning & Environment
GPO Box 39, Sydney NSW 2001
Attention: Executive Director - Resource Assessments and Business Systems.
Please …copy email this to anyone who can help by sending in a submission.
If you wish more information, please email me, The modification the company is seeking to its conditions is based on inaccurate and incomplete data, and there is much more that can be said.
And again apologies for having to ask. This is not just for my survival, but for the animals, the land and children yet to come.
Australian Children’s laureate 2014-2015
2015 Senior Australian of the Year