Approved Work Plan for Bullarto South Mine Inadequate
A copy of the approved Work Plan for MIN5349 was received by Wombat Forestcare in August 2012 and fails to address concerns regarding the protection of waterways and biodiversity.
The Work Plan provides very little detail regarding the construction of this open cut extraction such as ramps needed for machinery and whether the works can be contained on the 3.8 hectare site.
Two proposed dams are indicated by circles but no measurements or engineering computations are provided.
The Work Plan has been approved without the provision of a plan which shows 'the general drainage pattern of the area' as required under the Mineral Resources Development Regulations 2002.
The waterway on the site is defined (and mapped) as a drainage line by the Code of Practice for Timber Production 2007 and should be protected by a 10 metre filter strip. However, although machinery must not enter except at approved crossings, trees may be felled from within the filter strip.
Whether this is a 'designated' waterway as defined by the Water Act 1989 is being examined by Melbourne Water and if they determine that it is a 'designated' waterway, the proposed works will need a 'works on waterways' permit. There is a waterway with an incised channel near the NE corner of the site and this may have implications for the proposed works.
The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has responded to a letter written by the Environment defenders Office regarding whether the operation is 'mining' or 'exploration' or both. DPI states that it considers the work to be 'bulk sampling'.
DPI informed us that Section 4 of the MRSD Act defines exploration to include: 'taking samples for the purposes of chemical or other analysis; and extracting minerals from land, other than for the purpose of producing them commercially' DPI assured us that they will monitor compliance with the Act however this raises the question of whether, if a large amount of gold is recovered, this is indeed a commercial operation and should have had more stringent requirements.
DPI also confirmed that the Biosis Flora and Fauna report formed part of the approved Work Plan but have since stated the report was not approved by DPI and is an appendix to guide DSE & DPI. There are also of set of General Work Plan conditions which may or may not apply to MIN5349 and a few specific conditions specified by DSE regarding the off-set which must be purchased within 12 months of commencement of works.
All this highlights the inadequacy of the Mining Act. That such a vague document has been approved, that there are no requirements for hydrological studies or engineering computations and that the possibility that an endangered species Common Bent-wing Bat) is on the site and surveys are not required is cause for great concern.
Given that four water authorities have a stake in the waterway of this proposed mine site; Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority (PPWCMA), Melbourne Water, Central Highlands Water and Southern Rural Water and is situated in a Declared Special Area (Water Supply Catchment) it would be expected that a waterway would automatically protected.
Wombat Forestcare is continuing to explore all legal avenues to halt this inappropriate proposed project and urges all those with concerns to continue to write to Minister O'Brien, government politicians and newspapers.