Farmers near Blayney in the NSW Central West have vowed to continue their fight to protect local water supplies after the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) today approved the McPhillamys Gold Project. [1]  

The IPC approved the mine even though it will deplete vital groundwater and leave a massive tailings dam of hazardous waste materials at the headwaters of the beautiful Belubula River.  

Belubula Headwaters Protection Group spokesperson Rebecca Price said: “We will not let this decision by the IPC stop us from fighting for our environment. From this point on we have to do this by making sure the mine adheres to the conditions of its consent, so that the destruction and pollution it will cause can be minimised.  

“We are devastated by this result, for the environment and the message it sends to all potential mining companies. 

“We feel like we have let down the next generation, by not stopping the destruction of our land and water, by this mine.” 

The Environmental Defenders Office, Australia’s leading public interest environmental legal practice, has been representing BHPG through the IPC assessment process. 

EDO Special Counsel Emily Long said: “We will closely examine the reasoning behind the commission’s approval and assist our client to consider their options.  

“The environmental impacts of this proposal are severe, and, in our client’s view, the public interest called for the IPC to refuse the mine.”  

“The project will leave a massive mine pit that will suck in groundwater for hundreds of years, water that should feed local springs and streams that flow into the beautiful Belubula River.   

“The tailings dam will leave a toxic legacy that will need careful monitoring and maintenance for generations to come. The approval is very surprising and disappointing.” 

  • Water: Due to the size of the mine Regis Resources would have taken close to 10 times more water than has historically been licenced in the area where the mine is situated. It also planned 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.   
  • Mine void: The 400m void that would be left by the mine after its 15 years of operation would drain water from local aquifers for 500 years. 
  • Tailings dam: Regis plans to build an enormous tailings dam at the headwaters of the Belubula River, to be filled with hazardous heavy metals. Regis failed to adequately assess the significant implications of climate change on the long-term behaviour of the tailings and risks to human health and the environment. 

The Belubula Headwaters Protection Group was one of more than 60 groups and individuals who made presentations at IPC public hearings over three days in February 2023. 


[1] IPC Statement of Reasons, 30-3-23 

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