MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Western Mining Corporation mine kills wildlife

Published by MAC on 2005-01-11


WMC mine kills wildlife

By Michelle Wiese Bockmann, The Australian

January 11, 2005

A South Australian government taskforce will examine a huge spike in the number of birds killed at the Olympic Dam uranium mine, after more than 100 were found dead over four days in late December.

The deaths were recorded at the mine's tailings dam in outback South Australia, which spans 400ha and is where solid and evaporated acid liquid waste from some of the uranium mine's operations is stored.

"Unfortunately the tailings system contains chemicals and that is what causes harm to birds," WMC spokesman Richard Yeeles said.

He said birds were fatally attracted to tailings dams because they mistakenly believed they contained water, and that it was "a long-standing issue of concern for the mining industry".

He said WMC fired gas guns intermittently and used intensive strobe lights at night to deter birds from coming to the area.

Olympic Dam mine is the world's largest copper-uranium mine and is owned and operated by Western Mining Corporation (WMC). The mine has been in production for over 15 years. Olympic Dam is part open-cut, part underground.

Previous MAC Link:

Another serious uranium mine spill (17/10/03)

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