To: Minister for Planning
Don't Open Cut Mine Big Hill in Stawell
I am a concerned Stawell resident. I am concerned about the proposed Big Hill Open Cut mining project, proposed by foreign owned Crocodile Gold, at Stawell Gold Mines (SGM).
This proposal concerns me for a number of reasons.
- I am severely concerned by the proposals proximity to schools. Stawell Secondary College and St. Patricks Primary School are all within a few hundred metres of the proposed open pit. The dust levels may be within the ‘acceptable’ limits, but what of all those who suffer asthma and other respiratory illnesses. Our children will be in danger.
- Dust levels. Although these are promised to be kept within the prescribed levels, there is only so much dust over a period of time that a person can breathe before it begins to have health effects, both long term and short term. It is not the dust that we can see that worries me, but rather the dust that cannot be seen. These types of dust stay in your lungs and have long-term health effects.
- Tailings. The tailings from the mine are an issue that is not one that we will fully understand for perhaps even 70 years. I understand that this is past the lifetime of most who are considering the mining proposal and indeed beyond the elected years of ministers and people in power. But I worry for my unborn children and my children’s children. If the tailings are pumped into the underground workings that currently exist, then eventually the chemicals from the tailings will make their way into the water table and into the water we drink, use to water our animals and water our gardens. This will have long-term health effects that we cannot anticipate.
- The proposed mining site already has a proposed extension. Once the ball is rolling who can predict whether SGM will decide to take on a further extension. SGM has told the community that the open pit will have a life of 4-5 years. If they find more gold then extending is the obvious conclusion. Where will it end?
- SGM has told the community that they will fill the void of the southern pit and replace Big Hill… “...only if the prices remain strong”. If prices do not remain strong then what happens then? Are we left with two gaping voids in the earth for the taxpayer to deal with? There is no money in backfilling. Can we really trust an untrustworthy industry like gold mining?
- IF Big Hill is replaced, SGM has promised to revegetate the hill. This is all well and good, however revegetation is not a one-month process. The trees and flora will not just reappear immediately. We will have a dusty hill, devoid of vegetation for years to come.
- This issue is dividing the community. Small communities need to stay strong to survive. Big business mining is a poor excuse for dividing a small community.
- SGM has proposed that 80-100 jobs will be created. This is a wonderful thing for Stawell, however Crocodile mining does not own the above ground equipment and will likely tender out the contract. The company that takes on the contract will likely have their own employees already trained in open pit operations, meaning these jobs will not be jobs for Stawell.
- 80 – 100 jobs seems a poor profit when it results in people moving because they cannot stand to live within metres of an open pit. I myself am considering putting my house on the market as I do not want to live in a town that has an open pit mine so close to its heart.
Why is this important?
Open cut mining Big hill in Stawell will cause environmental destruction, air pollution, noise pollution and widespread distress to many of the residents of the Stawell community.
I have lived in Stawell for most of my 27 years, and I don’t want to leave the land that I love so much. There are not many people my age who stay in the country, and it’s issue like this that make young people leave. It makes young people lose their faith in small towns and the benefits of living in the country. It disheartens young people that these destructive proposals are considered and that we have so little faith in the wonderful environment that we have around us.