MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Lake Cowal National Day of Action

Published by MAC on 2004-05-20


Lake Cowal National Day of Action - 20 May 2004

Media Release

One teaspoon of 2% cyanide is a lethal dose.

Events: The Lake Cowal National Day of Action will be held in all major cities across Australia on 20 May 2004 to protest about the potential destruction of one of Australia's last remaining wetlands by the construction of a cyanide leach gold mine at Lake Cowal (see list of events in other cities below).The day of action will coincide with the Indigenous Murray-Darling Basin meeting in Old Parliament House, Canberra.

Why: Construction is due to begin very soon on the Cowal Gold Project situated in the Murray-Darling Basin 47 kilometres north-east of West Wyalong, New South Wales. The mine is due to start production in 2005. During the 13-year life of the Cowal gold mine, Canadian goldmining company, Barrick Gold, will transport 6000 tonnes of cyanide per year from Gladstone in Queensland to Lake Cowal to extract gold from ore.

Lake Cowal, New South Wales' largest inland lake, is an internationally significant wetland with more than 200 species of migratory birds and has been acknowledged by the National Parks and Wildlife Service as meeting the criteria for protection under the International Convention on Wetlands (the Ramsar Convention). Lake Cowal is the sacred heartland of the people of the Wiradjuri Nation, who have connection to Lake Cowal dating back thousands of years.

The delicate ecosystem of the Lake Cowal/Wilbertroy Wetlands is under threat from the construction of the Cowal Gold Project which is a cyanide leach gold mine. Barrick will construct an open cut mine on the western side of the lake. The pit will be 1 kilometre long, 825 metres wide and 325 metres deep. Low-grade ore extracted from the pit will be treated with a cyanide solution and the waste will be stored in open tailing dams located nearby. The area is subject to regular flooding and is situated on the Lachlan River flood plain.

The Lake Cowal National Day of Action will call for the cessation of cyanide leach mining that has already been banned in many countries across the world. The New South Wales and Federal Governments will be called on to fullfil their commitments to the ailing Murray-Darling system by protecting Lake Cowal.

"Our sacred lands and artefacts at Lake Cowal are an intrinsic part of our religion and our heritage." said Neville 'Chappy' Williams, Wiradjuri Traditional Owner.

"It is unacceptable that the New South Wales Government should issue a 'consent to destroy' permit to desecrate our sacred site at Lake Cowal. Some of the artefacts being destroyed are as old as the pyramids of Egypt. The government has an obligation to protect our cultural heritage."

Events Across Australia

Canberra: 2 pm PRESS CONFERENCE opposite New Parliament House
12:30 pm: FIRE and ashes from Lake Cowal Fire; BBQ; Gathering at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, march to new Parliament House and presentation of '2% cyanide teaspoons' to politicians.

Contact: Neville Williams 0416 316 774 or 0421 795 639
Sydney: ceremonial lighting of sacred fire, Victoria Park, Glebe and rally to Parliament House. List of demands. Contact: Anna Rose 0411 4471 03

Brisbane: march and street theatre, King George Square. Contact: Danika Tager 0407 506 322
Melbourne: march and street theatre - State Library of Victoria. Contact: Natalie Lowrey 0431 194 083

Newcastle: reclaim the streets and Lake Cowal. Contact: Shannon Hall 02 4921 6006
Illawarra: Corroboree for Lake Cowal at Sandon Point Kuradji Embassy, Macauleys Beach, Illawarra. Contact: Roy kennedy 0401 252 779
Tasmania - 12:30 - 1:30 venue tba
Greetings, Here is news of the Lake Cowal National Day of Action. The International Month of Action is 20 May - 20 June. More news to come.

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