Residents discuss mine concerns

Residents at the meeting.
Residents at the meeting.

DUST contamination, dangers presented by an open-cut pit and legal options for concerned residents were just three issues discussed at a community meeting in Heathcote last night. 

The meeting was held to address community concerns about the health and environmental impacts of a Mandalay Resources mine in Costerfield.

It follows recent health testing, which detected high levels of metal antimony in 29 out of 30 local residents.

Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters chaired the meeting, which was attended by about 120 people.

The crowd heard from seven speakers, but not Mandalay Resources Australian Operations general manager Andrew Booyzen, who failed to attend after telling organisers he was coming on Tuesday.

Planning Minister Matthew Guy, who was invited to the meeting, also did not attend.

Costerfield resident Neil Harris, who has filed a case against Mandalay Resources regarding an alleged breach of the Public Health and Wellbeing Act, was the first to address the crowd.

Mr Harris displayed a slideshow of photos taken from his property, which showed the property covered in dust and mist and which Mr Harris said had been caused by the nearby mine.

"You can see the colour of the ground - grey with dust," Mr Harris said. "That's how some of you people have high antimony levels, I'm absolutely certain of it."

Retired engineer Ian Magee told the crowd an open-cut pit, sometimes referred to as Hirds Pit, contained high levels of antimony and was a concern for the community.

Mr Magee said excess water from the Costerfield mine was emptied into the pit every day. 

He said he had monitored the pit's water levels and found that almost 2.5 megalitres of water was being discharged every day, but it was unclear where the water was going.

He suggested it could be problematic for Heathcote residents if the water had been absorbed by land near the Heathcote township.

Environmental Justice Australia lawyer Ariane Wilkinson advised people of their legal rights, including the option to complain to the council under the Health and Wellbeing Act.

Ms Chesters said she supported mining as long as it didn't impinge on the safety of the community.


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