Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Opposition builds to mine's proposed evaporation pond

A mining company's plans to store excess groundwater from mining operations in South Costerfield has upset nearby residents.

BRONWYN BEYERS January 17, 2013 4:54am

A view of the Leask property dam with the proposed evaporation pond site in the background, which could cut off the property's water supply.

AGD Operations could face a tough battle from district farmers over a proposed evaporation pond in Costerfield.

The company, which operates the Costerfield Gold and Antimony Mine, last week announced plans to build an evaporation pond in South Costerfield to store excess groundwater from mining operations, located 600-metres from the Leask family property, ‘Glenlea’.

Farmer Colin Leask has lived and farmed at the property since 1948.

He lives there with his 98-year-old mother, Mary, sister Rose and his partner Pam King, producing beef and lamb for the private market and Merino wool.

He also operates a Shetland Pony stud.

Ms King said they first learned of the mine’s plan after seeing an advertisement in relation to the mining lease in the McIvor Times on January 9.

‘‘We went to the (Greater Bendigo) council to get a copy of the plan, but they said they didn’t have one and told us to go to the mine’s office to get one,’’ she said.

‘‘When they got out here we couldn’t believe how much research they hadn’t done.

‘‘They didn’t even seem to know there was a dam here, but it’s only a few hundred metres away.’’

The primary domestic and stock water dam on the Leask property is fed entirely from water running off the gentle sloping west facing block along a natural course, with the only other sources of water being rainwater collection and creeks passing through Glenlea.

‘‘These are seasonal creeks so you can’t ever rely on them and these days they don’t flow like they used to because the mine has lowered the water table, but you can live with that because you have plenty of dam water,’’ Mr Leask said.

‘‘If they put the pond there, it will stop all the water coming in to the dam, so I may as well just pack up and leave.’’

Ms King said they were also concerned over the pond spilling or leaking and contamination from any water run off that might still occur.

Mine managers Mandalay Resources provided Mr Leask with a copy of its weekly water sampling report on the waste groundwater from the mine and the results from the December 12 report show the water contains chemicals and metals including sodium, chloride, arsenic and antimony, a chemical classed as toxic to humans by the World Health Organisation.

‘‘We are not trying to stop the mine, we actually think the mine is a good thing, good for employment,’’ Ms King said.

‘‘But now, after reading what that stuff is, we have to say ‘no’.

‘‘We just don’t want them across the road, I don’t mind them up the road, but just not right here.’’

Mandalay Resources general manager Andre Booyzen was unavailable for comment on Monday, but is expected to attend a meeting at Glenlea on January 24 with the Leasks and Greater Bendigo representatives.

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