Cadia gold mine ( Flickr.com)
In late September, mining company Newcrest pleaded guilty to breaching NSW clean air regulations in its operation of the Cadia goldmine, near Orange in central west NSW. The company will be sentenced in the Land and Environment Court in March 2024.
Newcrest is the biggest gold miner in Australia and one of the largest in the world. In recent years, the company has also been increasing its production of copper.
The NSW Environmental Protection Authority began proceedings against the company in August, alleging that the operation of surface exhaust fans attached to the main ventilation shaft for the underground goldmine, dubbed ‘vent rise 8’, had caused it to exceed the standard concentration of solid particles under Section 128 of the NSW Protection of the Environment Operations Act.
The EPA has also said that is investigating a number of other alleged breaches regarding Cadia management of dust and other air pollutants.
The Cadia mine has a long record of environmental problems. Both the court actions and the Inquiry came about as a result of years of community campaigning. Residents have been complaining about pollution caused by the mine for at least 10 years.
While some reports are confidential, you can view the Cadia licence on the NSW EPA website. You can see from Cadia’s licence, the company has breached conditions of the licence, caused air and water pollution and failed in its monitoring and maintenance on numerous occasions since 2013.
Currently, the NSW Legislative Council is holding an Inquiry into potential impacts of gold, silver, lead and zinc mining on human health, land, air and water quality in New South Wales. The evidence before the Inquiry shows that there have been weaknesses in regulation of the Cadia mine that have allowed corporate failures to continue.
You can read more about this issue in reports by Guardian Australia reporters here.
Guardian’s court report – 29/9/23