MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Sydney residents raise concerns about cyanide

Published by MAC on 2007-05-02

Sydney residents raise concerns about cyanide

By Caro Meldrum, ABC

2nd May 2007

Concerned citizens have gathered at Chullora in western Sydney to protest against the multinational mining company Barrick Gold. The protest was part of an International Day of Action against the company.

Barrick Gold has mines across the globe, including North and South America, Africa and Australia. Protestors gathered at the entrance to transport company, Pacific National, on Dasea street, to blockade trucks carrying cyanide to Barrick's mine at Lake Cowal.

"Cyanide Watch" organiser, Graeme Dunstan, says he wants to know how much cyanide is being transported on Sydney roads. "We want communities to know about the possible threat from a cyanide spill to their public health and water ways," he said.

Mr Dunstan says the maker of the cyanide, Orica, the transporter Pacific National, and the New South Wales Planning Minister are withholding information about how much cyanide is being trucked around the state.

"If the government won't tell us how much cyanide is being carried, if the carrier Pacific National say they can't tell us, and Orica are refusing to tell us, how are we going to find out?" he said.

"If they won't tell us, we're going to ask the truck drivers direct. We'll stand in front of the trucks and demand to know."

"We're going to make sure they become visible, we are going to drag them into accountability." But Barrick Gold says it is committed to ensuring that the environment and local communities are protected. The company's community relations manager, Bill Shallvey, says strict safety precautions are in place to prevent spillages and accidents.

"The company has always been open about how much cyanide is being transported to site. These figures appear on our Environment Impact Statement," he said.

"These figures state there are in excess of 6,000 of cyanide tonnes per annum for the Lake Cowal project."

"Barrick is the first mine globally that has been certified under the International Cyanide Management Code. And we also choose to buy our cyanide off Orica, which is also a signatory to that code."

"And that code is actually voluntary. It involves the safe transport, manufacturing, handling of materials, emergency response planning and community consultation."

Mr Shallvey says Mr Dunstan's claim that Barrick Gold is withholding information is unfounded. "We don't hide these things," he said.

"I don't think Mr Dunstan has anything better to do, and he misleads a lot of young people that don't know any better. Mr Dunstan encourages these people to trespass on site and do things that are very dangerous."

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