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Massive bauxite deposits spark fear of open cut mining

THE POSSIBILITY of open cut mining of bauxite in the north-eastern parts of Upper Lachlan Shire could pose problems for landholders in the area, and Council should prepare for such a situation.
Nanjing Night Net

At last week’s Council meeting Council Cr. Malcolm Barlow gave notice of motion that a development control plan for open cut mining be prepared.

This will be debated at the April meeting.

Cr. Barlow told last week’s meeting that the prospecting company had claimed to have discovered possibly the third or fourth richest bauxite deposit in the world in a line stretching from Taralga to beyond Binda.

“This mining project could be a great economic boost to the Shire through its potential to create many long-term and well-paid jobs and through its potential to pay income to participating landholders,” Cr. Barlow said.

“However,” he added, “it also poses long-term agricultural viability of some lands in the shire, and unless properly controlled could negatively impact upon some of our infrastructure such as roads and water systems.

“It could be great, it could be disastrous.

“It is up to us to show some leadership and set some parameters which we think are in the best interests of our Shire and our people.”

Cr. Barlow said the company had estimated there is 25 to 30 million tonnes of the highest grade ore available to be transported to Goulburn and then railed on to Port Kembla for export.

General Manager Mr. John Bell said the company was considering either road transport of the ore, or piping as “slurry” to Goulburn rail head.

Cr. Barlow said high grade deposits 30 metres deep had been located under only a metre or so of top soil.

Mining on properties with the owner’s consent presented no problems, but Council should have a policy in the case of non-consensual landowners.

Another problem was the rehabilitation of such open cut mining area.

“Digging 30 metres or more over areas of 30 to 50 acres or more will create giant pits that cannot then be merely refilled and expected to re-develop into productive and scenic farmlands is another matter entirely,” Cr. Barlow said.

“We have to ask, are the jobs and limited royalties received from this basically quarrying project worth replacing the current scenic and agriculturally productive farmland with scarred landscapes that may take decades or longer to return to their former state?”

Cr. Brian McCormack commented that prospecting was also happening in the Laggan area “in some of the best basalt country in the Shire.”

Director of Works Mr. Phil Newham: “Bauxite is not normally found in basalt country; it’s more in the poorer country.”

Cr. McCormack: “It’s pretty important we look into this. These people are getting pretty serious. We should be ready.”

He suggested contacting Gunnedah Shire, which now had mining all around the town.

“There should be policies in place.”

Cr. Barlow: “A lot of people don’t want their land affected by open cut.”

Cr. Brian Moloney suggested that Council invite the developers to make a further presentation to Council on their future plans.

“This could make another wind farm situation, with a lot of misinformation going on.”

His suggestion will be carried out.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.