DPI and Fortitude Mining Delay Public Release of Plan for Wombat Gold Mine and Mislead Community on Mine Expansion
Tree on proposed Mine Site
Despite a public meeting attended by 350 people who oppose the gold mine and repeated requests by the community, DPI and Fortitude Mining are still refusing to publicly release the approved Work Plan for the five hectare gold mine in the Wombat State Forest.
Fortitude Mining has also totally changed its position on the possible expansion of the proposed mine, and are now saying that 120,000 tonnes of ore may be mined in the area, sixty times the volume in the current proposal. On top of this Fortitude Mining is now claiming that Wombat Forestcare is spreading misinformation, when in fact the information provided by the company keeps changing.
A spokesperson for Wombat Forestcare, Murray Ralph, said that 'This could all be clarified if either DPI or Fortitude Mining would release the final, approved copy of the Work Plan. For some unknown reason the Work Plan that was supplied to our group may or may not be the final DPI approved Work Plan. I am almost starting to believe that the Work Plan that we will eventually see is not the one that DPI actually approved'.
View of the Forest at the Mine Site
Both DPI and Fortitude Mining have said that the Work Plan cannot be released because sections are commercially in confidence. Murray Ralph also stated that 'Those sections could be very easily removed and the remainder of the Work Plan release to the community. First Fortitude Mining tells us we can have a copy, then we can't. Then they finally provide a copy that may be the approved plan but may not. DPI tells us that to get a copy of the approved Work plan we will need to go thorough Freedom of Information, a lengthy and difficult process. Then, when a lawyer from the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO), acting on our behalf contacts DPI they say we can have it in a week'.
Fortitude Mining also stated in a meeting held last week between DPI, a representative of Fortitude and Wombat Forestcare, that the mine would definitely not be expanded beyond five hectares. Now they are stressing that it is only a sample and that there is another 120,000 tonnes of material to mine if this proves to be economic.
A mining licence was granted for the 5 hectare site in July 2007 and a Work Plan approved by the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) on the 30 May, 2012. The gold mine is to be located 5km south of Bullarto in the headwaters of Heritage listed Lerderderg River and adjacent to Crowley Creek, which becomes the Lerderderg River. Fortitude Mining has a permit issued by DSE to clear 3.8 hectares of forest so the mine can proceed.
Wombat Forestcare is concerned that neither Fortitude Mining nor the relevant state authority, the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) have carried out a comprehensive survey of the rare or threatened species that are thought to exist on the site.