MAC/20: Mines and Communities

"Barrick Gold, Go Home!" Say Protesters

Published by MAC on 2003-05-20


"Barrick Gold, Go Home!" Say Protesters

Media Release, Lake Cowal Campaign

May 20, 2003

On Thursday, May 22nd, Barrick Gold (Canada) Executive Vice President Pat Garver will offer a keynote address at the NSW Mineral Exploration and Investment 2003 Conference on "Why Barrick is investing in New South Wales".

Outside the conference, being held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney, Mr. Garver and other conference attendees will be greeted by protesters chanting "Barrick Go Home".

These protesters are referring to Barrick Gold's attempts to start up an open pit cyanide leach gold mine at Lake Cowal in central west New South Wales.

"Barrick has been repeatedly challenged in the courts by Wiradjuri Elder Neville Williams about the desecration of the sacred Heartland of the Wiradjuri Nation." says Ruth Rosenhek, spokesperson for the Coalition to Protect Lake Cowal. "They are not heeding Mr Williams and other Traditional Custodians of the Lake Cowal region."

"Barrick's plans for a cyanide leach gold mine on the largest inland Lake in New South Wales are ludicrous. Not only are mining activities by Barrick Gold destroying the hub of Wiradjuri Being, the proposed mine is flawed in its design, not nearly meeting world best practice guidelines.

"For example, the tailings ponds are too big to be effectively managed and contradict explicit recommendations made in the 'Best Practice Guidelines: Reducing Impacts of Tailings Storage Facilities in the Northern Territory'; this booklet calls for small tailings pond cells. At the currently proposed size, there could be massive birdkill and it might not be detected until too late.

"Furthermore, the technology that would break down the lethal cyanide complexes is inadequate as is the proposed monitoring system. Too little, too late. We cannot risk allowing cyanide complexes to enter into the groundwater system.

"There are plenty of other problems including the possibility of arsenic leaching out of waste rock and into the food chain before heading down to the Murray Darling basin. As was seen in Bangladesh, arsenic in groundwater can cause an epidemic of skin cancer.

"It is unacceptable for a Canadian company to come here to Australia with the offer of a few temporary jobs in exchange for the destruction of Aboriginal culture, the destruction of one of our few remaining wetlands, and the potential risk to many species of birds that breed and migrate at Lake Cowal. Barrick, go home!"

"Our protection of the Lake for thousands of years also means that it is still the home and breeding grounds for hundreds of species of birds and mammals." says Wiradjuri Elder, Neville Williams.

"The survival of many of the beautiful birds and animals at Lake Cowal is now threatened. This is sad and shameful. Lake Cowal is already recognized as an internationally important wetland and is listed in the Register of the National Estate."

For more information, call Ruth Rosenhek, Coalition to Protect Lake Cowal on 61-2-66213294 or Neville Williams, Mooka Traditional Owners Council on 0416316774
or email ruthr@ozemail.com.au and see http://www.rainforestinfo.org.au/gold/lakem.html

 

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