Toxic mine leak angers gra­zier

Townsville Bulletin - - News - by Nathan Paull nathan. paull@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

A NORTH-WEST gra­zier who has been hound­ing the State Gov­ern­ment for three years to do some­thing about a toxic leak from a nearby mine flow­ing into his prop­erty does not know what else to do.

Ver­dun ‘ ‘ Brussie’’ Spread­bor­ough, who owns Chin­dra Sta­tion at Gun­pow­der north of Mount Isa, said he would love to take the gov­ern­ment to court over the is­sue, but sim­ply could not af­ford to.

Mr Spread­bor­ough said ev­ery wet sea­son since 2009, waste wa­ter from the Mount Ox­ide mine had been run­ning through his prop­erty, turn­ing creeks and rivers bright blue.

He said while sci­en­tists had been out to test the wa­ter, he had not heard back about whether it was safe.

M r S p r e a d b o r o u g h s a i d al­though the toxic leak had not caused him any health con­cerns a p a r t f r o m s t r e s s , h e was wor­ried about his live­stock.

RISKY: waste wa­ter from Mount Ox­ide mine flows into Chin­dra Sta­tion

‘‘ As far as I know, it doesn’t af­fect the meat in the cat­tle, but . . . it af­fects their im­mune sys­tem,’’ he said.

‘‘ So they could get a cold and get sick a lot eas­ier.’’

Mr Spread­bor­ough said he did not think the prob­lem would go on for so long and hoped enough me­dia at­ten­tion would prompt the State Gov­ern­ment to fi­nally act.

‘‘ They’ve done some work here try­ing to fix the prob­lem, but it hasn’t seemed to have worked,’’ he said.

‘ ‘ I t ’ s a big en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sue. . . ( but) I can’t af­ford to take the gov­ern­ment to court.’’

A Depart­ment of Em­ploy­ment, Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment and In­no­va­tion mines and en­ergy spokesman said staff at the mine were com­plet­ing an in­spec­tion and as­sess­ment pro­gram.

‘‘ This in­cludes tak­ing wa­ter sam­ples and as­sess­ing the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion fol­low­ing re­cent rain events,’’ he said.

‘‘ The depart­ment will re­view its find­ings af­ter staff re­turn from Mount Ox­ide to de­ter­mine the next stage of the re­me­di­a­tion works pro­gram.

‘‘ The site is in very re­mote iso­lated ter­rain and the an­nual wet sea­son re­stricts ac­cess to it.’’

The spokesman said the depart­ment along with the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Re­source Man­age­ment had al­ready cleaned up and fixed part of the prob­lem at the site.

‘‘ More than $ 1 mil­lion has been in­vested in works in­clud­ing stream clean-up op­er­a­tions, wa­ter qual­ity test­ing and mon­i­tor­ing, live­stock as­sis­tance to the af­fected land­holder, and cov­er­ing old ore stock­piles with plas­tic to pre­vent in­fil­tra­tion and leach­ing from the stock­pile ar­eas into lo­cal streams,’’ he said.

‘‘ The depart­ment con­tin­ues to work closely with the af­fected land­holder, tra­di­tional own­ers and other gov­ern­ment agen­cies to de­velop long-term so­lu­tions and min­imise po­ten­tial i mpacts.’’

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