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Protestors to halt mining operations - unsustainable mining harms Australia

Published by MAC on 2009-04-14
Source: Save Lake Cowal Media Release

Protestors to halt mining operations - unsustainable mining harms Australia

Save Lake Cowal Media Release

11 April 2009

Concerned citizens have gathered in solidarity with Wiradjuri Traditional Owners of the Lake Cowal area to halt Barrick Gold Corporation’s mine operation in the lake. The campaign to Save Lake Cowal has been running for 10 years, this is the seventh gathering at Lake Cowal to protest the mine.

“We are here to say NO to Barrick Gold’s attempts to expand the mine on our sacred lands” stated Neville Chappy Williams, Traditional Owner, Mooka/Kalara United Families within the Wiradjuri Nation, Lake Cowal.

“We have won the injunction to stop the expansion, now we demand that Barrick close the mine and leave. We have taken this all the way to the United Nations and to Barrick Gold’s shareholders.

“Along with our brothers and sisters in Papua New Guinea, Tanzania, USA, Chile, Argentina and Pakistan we stand united against Barrick Gold’s continuing human rights and environmental abuses at their mine operations.”

Graeme Dunstan from Cyanide Watch is protesting at Lake Cowal this easter, “There are currently 50 people here camping at the fence of the mine and there are many more people coming out today.”

“We are all here in support of Wiradjuri who stand at the front line of this struggle against a global mining giant. We are concerned about the cultural and environmental impacts which have been substantiated over and over again.”

“Monash University academic, Dr Gavin Mudd’s report on Peak Minerals states that mining one kilogram of gold takes 691,000 litres of water and 141 kilograms of cyanide. The environmental footprint of mining looks set to substantively increase into the future. This includes higher energy, water and chemicals consumption as well as higher greenhouse emissions.”

The Murray Darling Basin Authority has come out this week stating that Wetlands and floodplain ecosystems across the entire Murray system will continue to be severely impacted by the prolonged dry conditions.

Murray inflows between January and March were the lowest in 117 years.

Recent aerial photos of the mine in Lake Cowal can be seen at: Please contact Natalie Lowrey for high res versions,, 0421 226 200

For more info: Neville Chappy Williams, Mooka/Kalara United Families within the Wiradjuri Nation, Lake Cowal 0447 841 560

Graeme Dunstan, Cyanide Watch and spokesperson at the Lake Cowal protest camp 0415 380 808

Natalie Lowrey, National Liaison Officer, Friends of the Earth Australia 0421 226 200

28 peaceful protesters arrested after authorisation to occupy mine site

12 April 2009

28 protesters were arrested this morning at Barrick Gold's mine operation in Lake Cowal, central western New South Wales. They were authorised to enter the mine site by Wiradjuri Tradtional Owners of Lake Cowal and its surrounds.

Entering the site at dawn the protesters climbed the bund walls into the open cut pit whilst Wiradjuri Traditional Owners performed a smoking ceremony and 15 other protesters blockaded the front gates of the mine. Over 50 workers waited patiently to get into the mine site for their shift change. "The supporters were authorised by us, the Traditional Owners," said Neville Chappy Williams, Traditional Owner, Mooka/Kalara United Families within the Wiradjuri Nation, Lake Cowal, who have been in the courts against the world's largest gold miner, Barrick Gold, for the past 10 years.

"We asked our supporters to enter the mine site to bear witness to the destruction and document the mine's impact. It is important that Wiradjuri maintain access to our cultural sites."

Lauren Campbell was arrested in the mine site having made the journey from Adelaide to Lake Cowal. "Before going onto the mine this morning I looked at some recent aerial photos of Barrick Gold's operation, but it didn't prepare me for the devastation of what we saw. Walking onto country and standing in the mine was an affirmation of why we are here."

Another arrested protester, Nectaria stated, "To be charged with trespass after being invited onto Wiradjuri country by Traditional Owners undermines and discredits any claims by the federal and state governments that they are taking on the issues of the environment, Aboriginal health and Aboriginal sovereignty. It seriously highlights the continuation of cultural genocide in Australia."

"When we were arrested the police kept stressing to us that we didn't get permission from Barrick Gold, inferring that we did have authority from the Wiradjuri Traditonal Owners of the Lake Cowal area." said arrestee, Amanda Seckold from Melbourne.

Protesters overheard security telling the police that the mine would shut down in the next year or so because Wiradjuri and their supporters would win against Barrick Gold. "Wiradjuri Traditional Owners of Lake Cowal have a right to protect their cultural sites, a right to protect their cultural water flows and a right to maintain access to this site. Their knowledge has been carried down generations for thousands of years and can help us better understand how to manage this land for future generations," said Natalie Lowrey, national liaison officer, Friends of the Earth Australia and long term Lake Cowal campaigner.

"Damage to water and water resources is the worst environmental consequences of gold mining. Water systems around mines are contaminated by cyanide, other process chemicals, and the acid mine drainage that runs off the exposed rock."

"This makes you wonder why a mine like Barrick Gold was ever approved in the heart of the Murray-Darling basin which has over three million Australians directly dependent on its water."

All 28 arrested protesters will not plead guilty to trespassing in closed lands within the Barrick Gold mining lease in Lake Cowal.

Contact: more info contact:
Neville Chappy Williams, Mooka/Kalara United Families within the Wiradjuri Nation, Lake Cowal
+61 447 841 560

Natalie Lowrey, National Liaison Officer, Friends of the Earth Australia
+61 421 226 200

Arrested protesters - +61 432 388 665
Lauren Campbell
Amanda Sekold

ACTION ALERT: Gold mine operation halted due to smoking ceremony

12 April 2009

Over 50 people have been lead to the edge of Barrick Gold Corporations mine site by Wiradjuri Traditional Owners of the Lake Cowal area in a ceremony to cleanse the land and to stop mine operations. “Wiradjuri cultural items and places have been damaged and destroyed including tens of thousands of stone artifacts, ancient ceremonial areas, marked trees, and traditional camp and tool-making sites to make way for this mine” stated Neville Chappy Williams, Traditional Owner, Mooka/Kalara United Families within the Wiradjuri Nation, Lake Cowal.

“Barrick has stolen more than 10,000 artifacts from the mine area, but has refused to release details and to hand them back.”

Supporters have traveled from Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Newcastle, Brisbane, Tasmania and local areas Orange, Condobolin and Forbes to support the Wiradjuri struggle against Canadian owned mining giant Barrick Gold. This is the seventh gathering to take place over the 10 years of the Save Lake Cowal campaign.

Among the supporters is Greens Councilor, Jeremy Buckingham, “I am here in solidarity with Wiradjuri in protecting their cultural heritage. Along with the desecration of culturally significant sites these huge open cut mines drain local ground water.”

“Since Cadia mine near Orange started up, flows in what used to be permanent creeks are reduced to a couple of weeks a year.”

Long-term Lake Cowal campaigner, Mia Pepper stated “It is an abuse of Wiradjuri culture and an abuse of Murray-darling water on a huge scale, using up to 17 million litres of water a day. Meanwhile 6,090 tonnes of cyanide travels 1600 kilometers to Lake Cowal every year from Orica’s plant in Gladstone, Queensland.”

“Barrick Gold Corporation also stands as a climate criminal - it takes approximately 12 tonnes of CO2 to produce 1kg of gold.”

Neville Chappy Williams has recently won an injunction in stopping the expansion of the mine that would double it’s size. He also represents the Mooka/Kalara United Families who are opposed to mining on their sacred lands and have a Native Title claim in the Federal Court.

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