Mine expansion delayed by Indigenous owners

July 4, 2009

The NSW Supreme court of appeal ruled on July 1 that a planned expansion of the Lake Cowal gold mine in the central-west of NSW cannot go ahead for up to three months.

Wiradjuri traditional owner Neville Williams welcomed the court's decision. "Hopefully this further delay to the expansion will mean the mine will close forever," he said.

Indigenous owners and environmental activists have run a 14-year campaign to close the gold mine. They argue it poses large health risks to the local community, is an immense drain on scarce freshwater resources and poisons the environment with cyanide and other toxic wastes.

The Lake Cowal mine is owned by mining giant Barrick Australia. The company is fighting to overturn a February decision of the Land and Environment court that put a hold on the mine expansion. Williams had brought the case against the expansion to the court.

Barrick wants to double production at the mine and increase its life-span by 11 years. Water use is projected to increase by up to 55%.

Williams said the struggle against the mine would continue. "You can't eat gold and you can't drink cyanide. We must remember water is more precious than gold. Water is life."

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