Environment Agency imposes ‘maximum fine’ on Australian gold mines for dust pollution

One of Australia’s largest gold mines has been fined the highest by the Environment Agency after it was found that operators failed to “maintain an adequate level of dust mitigation”.

Cadia Valley Operations, the operator of the Cadia gold mine near Orange, New South Wales, has received approval from the New South Wales (NSW) Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the effective application of the dust suppressant Hydro-Mulch. He was issued $15,000 (US$10,445) for not maintaining coverage. at his two facilities, the Northern and Southern Tailings Storage Facilities.

Hydromulching is a hydraulic technology that uses a slurry of seeds, mulch and fertilizer in water to provide a protective cover and prevent erosion when applied to a surface.

“An investigation into a resident complaint on April 19 revealed that dust was blown from the company’s northern tailings storage facility.” media release.

Woods said the operator’s failure to maintain the tailings storage facility’s dust suppressant was a “significant problem,” resulting in continued removal of dust from the Cadia mine site.

However, this is not the first time these issues have been raised.

The EPA said tailings, a mining byproduct, was drying up at the two facilities when a dam wall was built to separate the two facilities after a “catastrophic failure” in 2018. I found A “dust lift” event that caused concern to residents near the site.

“EPA has received numerous notifications from residents about dust lift events visible from their homes,” Woods said.

“The EPA is taking other steps related to these events, but we need deterrence,” Woods said.

$15,000 (US$10,445) is the maximum fine the EPA can issue under its law, but Woods said more action would be taken if operators were found to continue to violate the rules. said.

“Cadia Valley Operations needs to better manage its impact on the surrounding communities if it wants to avoid escalating regulatory action by the EPA,” said Woods.

Voice of residents

Gemma Green, a farmer and member of the Cadia Sustainability Community Network, said she was “grateful for the EPA’s work,” said the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

But she said the fine was not a “commensurate penalty”, adding that reducing the mine’s capacity for 12 months would “generate more action to positively change the dust problem”.

Newcrest, owner of Cadia Valley Operations, released a report in July 2021 that assured the community that dust lifts from the tailings do not pose a risk to public health, reports ABC.

Aaron Brannigan, general manager of Cadia Valley Operations, said: ABC Since then, the mine has doubled its dust abatement program to address potential high wind events. Branigan said research is also being conducted to improve dust suppression strategies.

August 18, New Crest (pdf) reported underlying earnings of $1.2 billion and record free cash flow of $1.1 billion for fiscal 2021/2022. The report also said the mining company remains relentlessly focused on “the safety and health of our employees and the communities in which we operate.”

We reached out to Newcrest for comment.

Henry Jom


Henry Jom is an Australia-based reporter covering Australian local news. Please contact [email protected]