Mining in the Wombat

Start of Bullarto mining meeting

Standing room only at the Bullarto Hall meeting.

A large gold mining operation has secretively been given the go ahead in the Wombat State Forest; 2km south of the Bullarto township, in the headwaters of the Heritage listed Lerderderg River.

The four hectare open cut mine has been approved without public consultation, and the mine owner and the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) have so far failed to publicly release any detailed information regarding the mining operation, such as a Works Plan. 

An Environmental Effect Statement has not been developed for the mining operation. Given the proximity of the proposed mine to Crowley Creek and the Lerderderg River, the operation raises issues about erosion, sedimentation and heavy metal contamination of these waterways. It also appears that on-site flora and fauna surveys have not been even been carried out.

The site is currently covered by forest and provides habitat for a range of native fauna. All native vegetation will be totally destroyed, as well as a large number of Wombat burrows that also occur on the site, and we presume along with the Wombats that reside in them. 

Wombat Forestcare has been led to believe that a small bond of $30,000 is to be paid and considers this to be totally inadequate to ensure that the proposed site is rehabilitated. ‘There are many examples where small mining companies have come in, extracted the gold then the company folds, leaving rehabilitating the site up to the taxpayers' stated Ian Magee from Bendigo District Environment Council, who has had many years experience campaigning against poorly operated mines in the Bendigo area.

If the mine goes ahead over 5,000 tonnes of extracted material will be trucked to Maldon for processing. These large trucks undertaking hundreds of trips will be travelling through Bullarto and past the local primary school, yet it appears that no Bullarto residents were consulted. The trucks will then undertake the 80km round trip damaging our local roads. It will be Hepburn residents that will have to foot the bill for road repairs not the mine owners. 

'Given the negative environmental impacts, secrecy and lack of consultation, every necessary action will be taken by Wombat Forestcare and the local community to stop this mining operation' stated David Stephens from Wombat Forestcare. 'We want federal protection of these primary water catchments (Wombat Forest) from this and any new mining operations.'