State orders pond closure

Thrilled: Woodvale Progress Association president Brendan Bartlett and Unity Mining Environmental Review Committee community representative Gary Davis at the evaporation ponds. Picture: NONI HYETT
Thrilled: Woodvale Progress Association president Brendan Bartlett and Unity Mining Environmental Review Committee community representative Gary Davis at the evaporation ponds. Picture: NONI HYETT

The state government has directed the company responsible for the rehabilitation of evaporation ponds at Woodvale to submit a closure plan for the site by the end of the year.

A notice issued to mining licence holder Kralcopic Pty Ltd , a subsidiary of GBM Gold Ltd, seen by the Bendigo Advertiser states the company “does not have an approved closure plan for the rehabilitation of the Woodvale evaporation ponds … to address future risks to the environment”.

The notice, issued by an inspector for the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources instructs Kralcopic to prepare and submit a closure plan for the facility by December 16.

The document was provided to members of the Woodvale Progress Association by Resources Minister Wade Noonan during a meeting including Member for Bendigo East Jacinta Allan and other senior government staff this week.

The notice also orders that ponds six and seven be rehabilitated “to the point of initial revegetation” and be audited on the environmental condition of the land and groundwater by the middle of 2018.

Woodvale Progress Association president Brendan Bartlett said Mr Noonan had also made a commitment for himself or a representative to meet with Woodvale community representatives on a monthly basis for the period until the plan is complete.

“The Woodvale Progress Association representatives are thrilled with the outcomes of this meeting, which is a major progression towards full closure and rehabilitation of the contaminated site,” he said.

“We wish to thank Minister Wade Noonan and Jacinta Allan for putting the local environment, health and wellbeing of Woodvale residents as a priority, and look forward to working with them towards full rehabilitation of the site.”

Members of Woodvale’s Environmental Review Committee also asked that an environmental effects statement be prepared before GBM Gold was allowed to access and disturb legacy mine tailing sites around Bendigo, due to health concerns for surrounding residents.

GBM Gold was contacted for comment and provided its July community update in response.

The community update said the company had engaged South East Soil and Water to carry out investigations on the site as the initial phase of the rehabilitation process.

The investigations were expected to take three months, the findings of which would guide the design of future work to achieve the rehabilitation objectives.

The update said GBM was seeking access to treated water for use in rehabilitation at Woodvale.

In its latest quarterly report, issued on July 27, the company listed “planning for rehabilitation” of the Woodvale Evaporation Ponds 6 and 7 as activities planned for the September quarter.

The state government approved the transfer of mining and exploration licences, including at Woodvale, from previous owner Unity Mining in May.

Then Minister for Energy and Resources Lily D’Ambrosio said the licence transfer to would create 15 jobs after the first year as the company expanded its operations.

- with Emma D’Agostino