MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Mr Peter Munk, Chairman

Published by MAC on 2002-02-18

Mr Peter Munk, Chairman
Barrick Gold Corporation
Royal Bank Plaza - Suite 2700
Toronto, Canada M5J 2J3

Dear Mr Munk,

Please halt the gold mining project planned for Lake Cowal, New South Wales, Australia.

The Australian Heritage Commission has suggested that the NSW government consider the Lake Cowal region for RAMSAR listing. Lake Cowal is included in Australia's Register of the National Estate and its Directory of Important Wetlands. The National Trust of Australia (NSW) has also listed Lake Cowal as a 'Landscape Conservation Area.'

In fact, Lake Cowal is habitat for a high diversity of waterbirds. With 172 species of birds recorded including migratory waders protected under international migratory bird treaties such as the the China-Australia Migratory Birds Agreement, (CAMBA)and the Japan-Australia Migratory Birds Agreement, (JAMBA).

It is unacceptable to risk cyanide spills, acid mine drainage and heavy metals, to name but a few of the possible consequences, in these important, sensitive wetlands. A spill of cyanide and arsenic laced wastewater could severely damage the entire wetland and related waterways, killing fish, birdlife and farm stock. Drinking water could be severely damaged. With the region being prone to floods, these sorts of risks are vastly increased.

We support the Aboriginal traditional owners of Lake Cowal/The Bland who have declared their opposition to the Lake Cowal gold mine project. It is our understanding that Homestake/Barrick and their predecessors have not properly consulted with many Aboriginal traditional owners from the region.

Homestake/Barrick should reconsider this undertaking. We believe that there are alternative means of revenue generation possible for this region that would benefit both land and people.

The environmental and human rights record of Homestake/Barrick has already been marred by a number of infamous incidents. Examples are the 1997 civil suit filed by the US Department of Justice, the State of South Dakota and the Cheyenne River Sioux against Homestake for heavy metal pollution of Whitewood Creek, South Dakota; the May 1998 spill of cyanide-laced tailings from the Homestake Mine into Gold Run Creek, South Dakota; and current allegations against Barrick in Chile and Tanzania.

We urge you to work towards restoring your corporations' reputation by abandoning the Lake Cowal project forthwith. To proceed further would be to engage in a costly and long drawn out conflict with environmental defenders of NSW and Australia.

Clean water is more precious than gold.

Please advise us of your decision at your soonest convenience.

Yours respectfully,

YOUR NAME
YOUR GROUP or AFFILIATION if you have one
CITY/STATE/COUNTRY (Include full address if you would like a reply)

For further information please see
http://www.rainforestinfo.org.au/gold/lakec.html

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