Big Hill gold mine

981101BigHillLogo.jpgCanadian gold miner Crocodile Gold is pressing ahead with the development of the Big Hill open pit project at Stawell in western Victoria.

The proposed gold mine would remove Big Hill, the major physical feature of Stawell. The company intends to replace the hill after the mining operation is completed.

The company is currently seeking approval from the Victorian Government to proceed.

The company plans to process 2.3 million tonnes of ore to recover more than 108,000 ounces of gold.

Crocodile Gold took over the Big Hill Project after it bought the Stawell Gold Mine in May 2013.

Community opposition forced the abandonment of plans for an open cut in the same area a decade ago.

This open cut will remove the main landmark for the town (Big Hill), with the promise of subsequent rehabilitation of the hill.

community opposition

IMGP7636.JPGThere have now been a series of meetings with residents around the proposed open cut. On April 17 2013, around 150 people attended a public forum to express concerns about the mine. There is a news story about this meeting from the Stawell Times available here.

In mid 2014, more than 100 people walked up Big Hill to oppose the mine.

Residents have attended the EES hearings and written submissions against the proposal.

To support or get active in the campaign get in touch with the locals:

Please sign the petition opposing the mine, available here.

Concerns about this project

The company has told the community that the open pit will have a life of 4 to 5 years.

Dust levels and public health. Although these are promised to be kept within prescribed levels, many residents are concerned about the fact that they will be exposed to dust over a considerable period of time. They fear the prospect of resulting health effects, both long term and short term.

The proposed open cut is in close proximity to two schools. Stawell Secondary College and St. Patricks Primary School are both within a few hundred metres of the operation.

Tailings. Additional information is needed about how the tailings from the mine will be managed.

Water use. Gold production is a water intensive process. It is not yet clear where the water for such a major operation will come from.

Large volumes of water will also be required for dust suppression along roadways and in the mining area.

Loss of amenity. Big Hill is a key feature of the town. The company has told the community that they will fill the void of the southern pit and replace Big Hill… “...only if the prices remain strong”. If prices do not remain strong then what happens?

If Big Hill is replaced, the company has promised to revegetate the hill. However it can be expected that the community will have to deal with a dusty hill, devoid of vegetation for years to come.

Employment. The company has said that the mine will bring 80 to100 jobs, however Crocodile mining does not own the above ground equipment and will likely tender out the contract. The company that takes on the contract will probably already have their own employees trained in open pit operations, meaning that not many of these jobs will be for locals from Stawell.

Meanwhile, it can be expected that tourism will be negatively impacted by a large above ground mining operation operating within the township.