Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps



Nowa Nowa residents have mixed feelings about mining project

nowa nowaThe following article comes from the ABC, journalist Jenni Henderson.

Check here for a background on the project and details on the community consultation process that has been happening. Leaving aside the direct environmental impact of the project, there is the key issue of what impact a large number of large trucks on the narrow Princes Hwy will have on locals and tourists.

Residents of Nowa Nowa and surrounds are expressing mixed feelings about the prospect of the Iron Ore mine being established seven kilometres north of the town. Mining company Eastern Iron is now putting together a feasibility study for the mine and has held community information sessions in Nowa Nowa, Lakes Entrance and Orbost.

The company estimates about 200 people have attended the sessions so far, to learn more about the project.

The mine still requires environmental and planning approval from the State Government.
Neil Smith a Nowa Nowa resident says the community has been ignored in the decision making process so far.

“I’m not just talking about the mining company. The East Gippsland Shire are in the process of negotiating a memorandum of understanding but they don’t see that’s there’s any need to talk to community before they reach an agreement,” he says.

Mr Smith says he feels that there has been no opportunity for the community to reach a consensus on what they want out of the mining project.

“If it’s ten years of mining and ten years of jobs and then nothing except a big hole in the ground and some potential environmental damage then there’s no benefit,” he says.
Nowa Nowa needs the cash flow and employment opportunities a mine would bring, says Paul Oakes, president of the Nowa Nowa and District Business and Tourism Group.
“Nowa Nowa is a very small community; it just needs the funds in. It’s pretty quiet, of course the mills have all been cut right back and forestry is cutting back on the harvesting so it’s sort of shrinking, the area is shrinking really,” he says.

Mr Oakes says the business and tourism group is concerned that East Gippsland Shire Council is representing the Nowa Nowa community in signing a memorandum of understanding with the mining company.

“It’s pretty hard for us to get any services from the shire except the basic ones. We’d prefer the mine to deal directly with the development group that’s here,” he says.

Helen Shields, a Nowa Nowa resident, says the mine proposal has the potential to divide the community.

“Communities always have dreams about things they can do for their area which improve them. Of course people want work, of course people want a future for their children to stay here but nobody’s had those conversations in relation to the mine,” she says.

Ms Shields has concerns about any environmental and social impacts the mine could have on the town.

“If there is explosions happening here 24 hours a day for 10 years I don’t believe that it won’t impact on this catchment area,” she says.

iron ore mine proposed for East Gippsland

Image: Eastern Iron Ltd
Image: Eastern Iron Ltd

Gippsland Iron Pty Ltd (a wholly owned subsidiary of Limited) is planning to develop and operate the Nowa Nowa Iron Project (known as the Five Mile Deposit).

The proponent hopes to gain final approvals by late 2013.

Some salient points about this proposal:

  • It will be on public land (state forest to the north of Nowa Nowa)
  • It will be an open cut mine and the footprint of the actual mine will be approximately 25 hectares
  • approximately 146 hectares of land will be cleared
  • The mine will operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and an expected operating mine life of between 8 and 10 years.
  • Approximately 24 Mt (mega tonnes) of waste rock will be mined over the life of the mine and permanently disposed within a waste rock stockpile adjacent to and upstream of the open pit. The final waste rock pile will be revegetated on mine closure.
  • One site of cultural heritage sensitivity has been identified within the vicinity of the mine access road.
  • Eastern Iron has decided not to use a wet separation process to separate the iron ore. Instead, Dry Low Intensity Magnetic Separation (“Dry LIMS”) will be used. This means that water use will be limited to dust suppression and is estimated at approximately 164 ML per annum.
  • The proponent says that there will be no down-stream impacts on creeks and catchments, including Lake Tyers
  • Trucks will be used to transport the ore to an existing bulk loader on the southern side of Two Fold Bay at the Port of Eden in NSW. The scale of the operation will mean that there would be around 74 vehicle return trips per day  of large trucks on a winding road used widely by local and tourist traffic.
  • When the mine is finished, the open pit will be allowed to flood via groundwater and surface water inflows.

There are community consultations going on now (mid November 2013).

Please check here for further details.

a copper zinc gold mine in the Vic Alps?

Benambra from McMillans Lookout. Image:

The Stockman Project is located in the Victorian Alps, 470km by road north-east of Melbourne and 60km by road north east of Omeo. The project contains two copper-zinc-lead-silver-gold rich deposits, called Wilga and Currawong. Wilga was discovered in 1978 and Currawong in 1979. Denehurst mined the copper rich core of Wilga deposit from 1992 to 1996. In 2006, following rehabilitation of the plant site and tailings dam by the Victorian Department of Primary Industries, the project was put out for public tender as part of an exploration incentive program. Jabiru Metals Limited (Jabiru) was awarded the project in March 2007.

The Independence Group has now bought up Jabiru, and is proposing to recommission the Wilga mine and establish a new mine four kilometres to the north (the Currawong deposit).

Check here for a summary of the project, and some of the issues concerning locals.

The Australian Alps, a powerful teacher

Headwaters of the Snowy River

The following comes from the Australian Alps national parks Co-operative Management Program.

“The Australian Alps Education Kit is designed for students, teachers and anyone else keen to learn about this spectacular region of Australia. These educational materials form an organised resource focusing on iconic, awe-inspiring and accessible areas within the Australian Alps.

The contents range from the resilient yet fragile plant communities that grow in the harsh alpine environment, to thecultural impact of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electricity Scheme; and from the First People’s connection with the mountain landscape to the Alps’ cycles of weather and climate”.

You can find the kit here.

There is a sheet on Aboriginal people and the alps available here.

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