Tuesday, 15 June 2021
TWO historic former mine sites in the Northern Tablelands will undergo significant environmental remediation following a $107.7 million State Government pre-budget announcement for the Legacy Mines Program today.
Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall welcomed the announcement, which will see funding allocated to remediate the old Conrad Mine near Inverell and former Ottery Mine site at Emmaville.
“Across our region the evidence of colonial silver, tin and gold mines prominently remains for all to see,” Mr Marshall said.
“While the early economic success of many settlements was the result of mining, the negative environmental and potential health impacts are now proving costly for communities and the State Government.
“The Conrad Mine, in the Howell area south-east of Inverell, was a silver and base metals mine which operated sporadically between 1898 and 1957.
“Despite some rehabilitation the Conrad Mine remains one of the highest risk sites on the Derelict Mines Program database due to offsite environmental impacts.
“The site is currently highly disturbed and there are numerous significant historical features remaining including the Conrad Shaft, rock stack at location of the King Conrad Shaft.
“Under the Derelict Mines Program (DMP) remediation work saw the capping of the upper tailings and improved drainage.
“As part of the continual risk assessment and mitigation further works must be completed to reduce contamination and ensure the protection of water, land and remaining infrastructure,” Mr Marshall said.
Mr Marshall said the State Heritage listed Ottery Arsenic and Tin Mine at Emmaville also posed historic contamination concerns.
“Ottery was worked from 1882 until 1957, and is the oldest principal ore refinery in Australia,” he said.
“Remnants of the mine infrastructure still exists at Ottery, though in a state of disrepair, while at the smelting site known as ‘Tent Hill’, two tailings dams and a minor scatter of bricks and concrete remains.
“Arsenic condensates and salt efflorescence from the former refinery process is evident.
“To ensure that the Ottery Mine does not present a significant risk to public health, work is being scheduled to reduce any potential contact with arsenic salts or arsenic rich drainage from the site.
“Rehabilitation will also be undertaken at Tent Hill to address elevated arsenic concentration.
“Intensive remediation at these locations will increase safety, reduce impacts to the environment, and reinvigorate land for other possible uses.”
This significant funding boost will allow major remediation works to be completed across ten years at abandoned mine sites, primarily in locations where production ceased between 50 and 100 years ago.
The Legacy Mines Program prioritises the rehabilitation or remediation of legacy mine sites based on a variety of factors including the:
- public safety risk;
- environmental risk;
- end use of the land; and
- cost-effectiveness of rehabilitation or remediation works.