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Tailings Dam Leak at Kalgoolie Mine in Western Australia downplayed by Barrick Gold

Published by MAC on 2004-10-27

Tailings Dam Leak at Kalgoolie Mine in Western Australia downplayed by Barrick Gold

ABC Online

Wednesday, 27 October 2004

Gold miner plays down pollution fears

Barrick Gold says it does not believe a pollution problem at its mine in Western Australia will also happen at its new mine near West Wyalong on the NSW central western slopes. A report by the Western Australian Government released last week revealed a tailings dam holding toxic waste at Kalgoorlie leaked and contaminated groundwater and an area of about 20 kilometres.

The mine is half owned by Barrick Gold and another company.

But Barrick Gold spokesman David Tucker says the new mine comes under a very strict set of controls built into the development consent.

He also says the level of cyanide released into the tailings dam at Lake Cowal will be far lower than most other mines.

He says the company will do its best to make sure a situation like what happened in Western Australia does not happen at its new mine.

"No-one can ever guarantee anything, but we will be meeting the compliance of those very strict controls that have been set for us by the New South Wales Government," he said.

But Greens' MLC Lee Rhiannon says the report shows a disturbing record for the company.

"Last week, a Western Australian Government review into the Finistone Dam at Kalgoorlie reveals the worrying trends," she said.

"What we have is the environmental impact of the tailings dam has increased salinity, there's heavy metal contamination and cyanide contamination and elevated cyanide levels in the groundwater."

Ms Rhiannon says the way to solve the problem is for the State Government to ban the use of cyanide in mines.

"The NSW Government has before it a quick way to solve this and that is to pass the Greens' bill," she said.

"Last week in the NSW Parliament I introduced a bill that will ban cyanide leach mining that gives the solution to the serious problem that we're confronted with and that is Barrick Gold's plans to use cyanide to obtain gold around Lake Cowal."

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