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Byron Shire
December 4, 2021

Approval to remove sand mine waste angers residents

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Rob English and his dog on narrow Gap Road leading to the Black Rocks campground in Bundjalung National Park. Photo supplied
Rob English and his dog on narrow Gap Road leading to the Black Rocks campground in Bundjalung National Park. Photo supplied

A private company has been contracted to remove up to 150,00 tonnes of ilmenite left over from a former sand mine in Bundjalung National Park despite concerns from nearby residents.

The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage has notified residents living along Gap Road near Woodburn that it had awarded Flagship Commodities the tender to remove the ilmenite at Jerusalem Creek in the national park, near the Black Rocks campground.

In a letter to residents, the state government department said the project would remove the large stockpile of ilmenite and restore the site to a natural functioning ecosystem.

The consent came into effect from 4 July, with the project expected to begin this year and completed over a number of years.

Opponents of the project have previously claimed that the contractor could expect to make $30 million by removing the stockpile and selling it.

The ilmenite is the by-product of sand mining from the 70 and 80’s, ‘much of which was produced before the park was declared in 1980’.

An OEH spokesperson preiviously told Echonetdaily that the plan of management for the Bundjalung National Park had recommended the removal of the ilmenite because it provides a low level of toxicity which over time will erode into the adjacent Jerusalem Creek and that it was in the longer term interests of the park that the ilmenite be removed and the area be properly rehabilitated.

The OEH has maintained that an extensive environmental assessment had been undertaken, however opponents say their concerns have been ignored.

Gap Road resident Joe Monks told Echonetdaily that 87 submissions against the proposal had been lodged with the department but had not been addressed.

‘One must conclude that the purpose is to benefit private enterprise,’ he said.

‘The Park and residents of The Gap Road and Woodburn will be subjected to 3-5 years of heavy truck movements just when the highway upgrade is firing up,’ Mr Monks said.

‘Our right to enjoy the amenity of our peaceful area is about to be destroyed in the name of greed and profit for another silvertail from Sydney.’

Another resident of Gap Road, Rod English, circulated a newsletter earlier this year claiming there had been a lack of environmental assessment and a lack of transparency.

Mr English said the project would result in potential threats and inconvenience to users of the narrow gravel road leading to the site; and the potential for threat to wildlife from heavy vehicle movement.

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  1. As one deeply involved in the protests against this project I need to correct the editor in respect of his statement that resident’s concerns “had not been addressed.”

    This is to determined as the Department has not yet published its reasons for rejecting our concerns.

    What is clear though is that the decision to press ahead with the project is not based on irrefutable evidence that the Ilmenite poses a threat to people, flora or fauna.

    The pile has become further exposed because the Department failed to heed the advice of a scientist in 2000 to recap it with sand available near the site.

    What we have is a mining project dressed up as site rehabilitation.

    Profit once again prevails over environmental and social concerns.

    The Gap Road will now be the subjected to assault by 40 tonne behemoths spewing diesel fumes, dust and noise over residents and other users for up to 5 years.



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