The NSW Department of Trade and Investment has instructed Kingsgate Consolidated to not conduct any site works within 40 metres of a watercourse until a water, erosion and sediment control plan has been approved at Bowden’s Silver Project.
The company has also been fined $7500 for failure to manage water, erosion and sediment movement, polluting a small creek and other instances of rain washing away sediment from drilling pads.
The enforcement comes after department representatives, the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and Mid-Western Regional Council conducted a site inspection on May 3 following community complaints.
Concerns related to excessive dust being expelled from drilling operations and failure to properly protect Blackman’s Gully watercourse.
Lue Action Group president Brett Farrow and wife Colleen raised concerns with authorities after taking a walk down Maloney’s Road on April 29.
“We were horrified to see evidence of machinery tracks and earthworks across the waterway, and the total lack of silt fences to protect runoff from the excavated drill pad sites and drainage sumps. We could see no attempt to keep contaminated water or silt from flowing into local creeks,” Mr Farrow said.
Kingsgate Consolidated and Bowden’s Silver Project site manager, Simon McDonald, described the breaches as “embarrassing”.
“It was careless and it shouldn’t have happened,” he said.
“If our company says we are going to be doing something then we should be seen to be doing it well.
“We thought we were operating within correct guidelines but we weren’t and its embarrassing.”
Mr McDonald said the major drilling pad in question has now been rehabilitated as all drill sites have been and will be.
The Lue Action Group has said failure to adhere to basic environmental protections at the exploratory stage heightens fears among concerned locals as to the outcome should a mining license be issued to Kingsgate Consolidated.
“This breach follows the pattern of mines in the region, with a recent audit showing Moolarben Coal had breached its exploratory license conditions on four occasions, and has been fined over major pollution incidents from its mining operations,” a statement said.