In today’s column we alert you to social, environmental and economic concerns for the future of Lue and the wider Mudgee district as expressed by Lue Action Group.

The group believes that mining has an important part to play in a balanced economy. However, they state that Mudgee does not need a new mine producing poisonous lead just two kilometres from a primary school, less than 30 kilometres away from Mudgee.

The following extract from their website outlines concerns about health effects of lead which will be carried in dust, risky tailings dams, and acid mine drainage:

“Silver Mines Limited are in the process of preparing an Environmental Impact Statement, which they will soon lodge in an attempt to gain approval for a silver and lead mine (The Bowdens Silver Project) in the middle of the pristine Lawsons Creek Valley.

Why is this concerning?

1. We understand that the mine will produce thousands of tonnes of lead, which is extremely poisonous to humans and animals when disturbed and processed. This will expose us to a high risk of negative health impacts from lead in the air we breathe and the water we drink, grow food and maintain livestock with.
2. We understand that the Bowdens proposal will include an enormous tailings dam, to sit above the water table at the headwaters of the Lawsons Creek (which flows into the Cudgegong River at Mudgee). This tailings dam will not only adversely impact surface water flows into the Lawsons Creek, but will house thousands of tonnes of dangerous heavy metals and chemicals, including lead, arsenic, zinc, cyanide and cadmium. To be clear – these are dangerous chemicals which aren’t found in other tailings dams (like relatively safe tailings dams used in coal mining).
3. These dangerous heavy metals and chemicals will sit in the tailings dam, upstream of Mudgee, forever. When mining ends, they are unable to be moved. That means that when mining operations have finished, Mudgee will be left with a toxic, dangerous legacy for generations to come. Who will maintain this dam in the future?
4. The Bowdens Feasibility study outlines plans to sit excess ‘waste’ rock, in an approximately 80 metre high embankment at the top of the water table feeding the Lawsons Creek. This rock has been identified by their own analysis as being ‘potentially acid forming’. This means that when the rock is dug up and exposed to oxygen (as it would be during mining), it produces dangerous chemicals which can seep into the ground, ground water and surface water – poisoning humans, animals and aquatic life.”

More information and an informative and interactive Threat Map is available . Join the discussion and connect with Lue Action Group .