The McPhillamys Gold Project is a proposed 15-year mining project that would leave a devastating 400-year legacy on the environment and precious local waterways. The Belubula Headwaters Protection Group, a group of concerned farmers and community members, is standing up to oppose the mine.
We’re representing our client before the NSW Independent Planning Commission (IPC), February 6-8, and bringing expert scientific evidence that supports our client’s case that the mine should be refused over its significant and unacceptable impact on water.
Toxic tailings dam a ‘ticking time bomb’
Regis want to build the McPhillamys mine and its giant toxic tailings dam across more than 35 natural springs that feed the Belubula River, a vital water source that sustains many local farms and farmers.
In gold mining, tailings dams are built to permanently store the toxic slurry of rock and hazardous heavy metals left over after gold is leached from rock using chemicals such as cyanide.
We’ll argue before the IPC that a tailings dam failure could poison the Belubula River, with disastrous consequences for the people, plants and animals that depend on it.
Our client fears the McPhillamys tailings dam is a ticking time bomb.
In 2018, the wall of a tailings dam at a nearby gold mine collapsed, leaving residents exposed to chemical tailings dust.
Coal wastewater is a contamination risk
Gold mining needs large quantities of water, mixed with chemicals, for the gold extraction process.
Regis has obtained a water licence to take 192,000,000 litres of water from the Belubula River. In addition, Regis want to build a 90km pipeline from coal facilities near Lithgow to pump millions of litres of contaminated wastewater across 113 watercourses to the mine site.
This risks contaminating waterways and surrounding farmland.
On top of that, the void left behind by the mine is expected to act as a groundwater sink, slowly drawing in water for the next 400 plus years until it reaches equilibrium.
As precious as it is scarce
Like much of central-western NSW, Blayney has faced devastating droughts since the turn of the millennium. Climate change means more frequent and more severe dry spells will come their way. According to the government’s own modelling, farmers in the area could lose on average up to 60 per cent of their yearly access to water, in the long term.
Yet the McPhillamys mine risks spilling toxic chemicals into a river that feeds local farms, drawing down water levels and contaminating land and waterways with wastewater.
All this at the expense of farmers, wildlife and the local community.
McPhillamys is just one of the many water-guzzling, river-polluting mining projects that are putting communities and ecosystems at risk.
Communities, like the people in Blayney, are fighting back to protect precious water from harmful mining projects.