A mining company has been penalised for releasing muddy water in New South Wales’ Southern Tablelands region.
Big Island Mining has copped a $15,000 fine from the State Environment Protection Authority (EPA) for releasing water with high concentrations of sediments from its Dargues Gold Mine in Jembaicumbene, 103km southeast of Canberra.
EPA claims the water overflowed from the tailings storage dam during heavy rainfall, causing the sediment laden water to flow into Spring Creek on 17 September 2019.
Risked plants and fish
The authority believes this runoff risked smothering water plants and other aquatic life forms, including fish that allegedly suffer damage to their gills.
“Polluted water must remain on the premises so it does not impact our waterways and can be appropriately re-used in mine operations or to suppress dust,” EPA director regulatory operations regional south Nigel Sargent said in a public statement.
The proponent had previously tried to defend itself but the authority rejected any notion the low impact should help avoid receiving a fine.
“Even though it was determined there was minimal harm to the creek, it is timely to remind all construction sites that water management controls must be appropriately designed and regularly checked,” Sargent said.
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Big Island Mining has since introduced environmental management and pollution control measures to reduce the chance of a repeat overflow.