Farmers protest silver, lead, zinc mine threat in Lue

Residents of Mudgee, in central west New South Wales, protested outside a meeting of the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) on February 15, where it was assessing a plan by Bowdens Silver to mine silver, lead and zinc, near the village of Lue. Nearby in Lue, farmers drove their tractors through the streets to highlight the issue. The protest was organised by the Lue Action Group (LAG).

The community is concerned about lead poisoning and contamination. LAG President Tom Combes said they were fighting because the company’s plan involved: three open-cut pits, across 52 hectares; a tailings dam covering 117 hectares, with a 56 metre high dam wall; a processing plant and associated infrastructure; a dump pile for potentially acid forming waste rock, across 77 hectares and a final void of approximately 53 hectares.

Bowdens is also wants to extract lead and zinc over a 23-year mine life span.

“It’s right in the middle of all of that agriculture, right in the middle of all of the tourism, right in the middle of an area that is just riddled with people,” Combes told the ABC on February 15.

LAG is worried about the health impacts on about 20 children at the Lue Primary School, the increased traffic and noise, the impact on biodiversity and the acid drainage.

About 400 submissions during the exhibition period opposed the proposal, meaning the IPC had to step in to make a final determination on whether or not it will go ahead. The commission hearings concluded on February 17.