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Byron Shire
February 24, 2024

Objection to gold mining in Tweed raised by former Mayor

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A gold mine in the Republic of Guinea. Image: mining technology.com

Aslan Shand

The Tweed Shire residents rejection of mining, in its many forms, was highlighted by former Mayor, and Tweed Shire Councillor Katie Milne (Greens) at yesterday’s extraordinary council meeting. The meeting was called to discuss the objection by Tweed Shire Council to the licence application for exploration for metallic minerals, including gold, silver, and copper, in the shire.

‘The community, as I understand, feels strongly about protecting this environment,’ said Cr Milne who put the motion (seconded by Councillor Ron Cooper). Cr Milne outlined why she believed Tweed Shire Council should object ‘in the strongest terms’ to the proposed minerals licence application to search for metallic minerals including gold, silver and copper.

‘It does have significant implications for Tweed. I would suggest it is not an appropriate activity for such a sensitive area,’ she said.

‘[It extends] over quite a vast area, 118km2. It stretches from the north-east of the shire in a strip down to the south-west of the shire.

‘There has been a significant amount of concern about mining in the Tweed in previous iterations of council in regards to coal seam gas (CSG) mining. We have at entrance ways to our shire that Tweed is a gas field free area.

‘We’ve [also had] issues with water mining and extraction… The [Tweed] is a precious and sensitive area. More precious than mining for gold would be.

Gold and copper nitrate solution on a filte.

Impact on water catchment

‘Mining is problematic for our community. Is not something landholders can just say no to having theses mining operations on their land even if they vehemently object. There is a process that is attempted to be reached through negotiation and agreement; but if that can’t be achieved the matter then goes to a court or a tribunal for the matter to be resolved. Generally there is very little that landholders can object to. In this situation the mining application is extending through our drinking water supply right up to and adjacent to Clarrie Hall Dam.

Councillor Milne also highlighted that is would impact both potential and known Aboriginal heritage sites as well as extending over both rural and urban areas.

‘I feel that we would be doing right thing by community to let the state government and proponent know of our concerns and objections to such activity being undertaken in the Tweed and I hope that I can get councillors support to protect our beautiful environment and our communities,’ she concluded.

Write to state members

Liberal Councillor James Owen also spoke in favour of the motion saying he had been ‘inundated with concerns from the community, that I share.’

He further suggested that concerned residents and landowners in Tweed should also ‘write to their state members’.

Speaking in favour of the motion Mayor Chris Cherry highlighted that there are few ways to mine for gold that are not pollution heavy.

‘There are not a lot of ways to mine for gold that are clean,’ she pointed out to the other councillors.

‘Traditional methods have a large potential for strong and negative impacts. Either there is open cut or underground 5x5m tunnels to do drilling and blasting underground. Both lead to large networks of tunnels underground including urban areas. I think having these tunnels under peoples homes not a good idea.

Mayor Cherry also pointed out that ‘The traditional use of cyanide and mercury have a huge potential to contamination of our water supply.’

Not a unanimous vote

While no one spoke against the motion when it came to the vote councillors Warren Polglase and Pryce Allsop both voted against the motion.

‘I feel this license is completely inconsistent with Councils established, decades long, history of protecting our world heritage environment,’ Mayor Chris Cherry told Echonetdaily.

‘It was difficult to understand why some Councillors voted against advocating for our community on this issue.’

♦ Warren Polglase and Pryce Allsop were contacted by Echonetdaily to clarify their position but no response was received prior to publication.


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