Notice of Motion: Fingerboards Mineral Sands Mining Inappropriate

with No Comments

The East Gippsland Community Action Group Inc is working with Minefree Glenaladale as both groups consider the project is not in the best interests of East Gippsland.

Underlying the project is the direct impact and risk to our “clean green” reputation and long-term sustainability of meat farming and vegetable growing and processing industries.

A mineral sands open cut mine is not compatible with existing farming uses.

Why jeopardise about 2000 jobs in the food industry in our region alone, on the basis the mine ‘may’ employ up to 80 jobs (that is for the life of the mine around 20 years).

Arable land would be resumed for mining instead of food production and adjacent lands and beyond impacted by the mining operations.

A Notice of Motion that our Shire Council opposes the mineral sands mine is to be moved by Cr John White on Tuesday, 21st November 2017 @ 6pm.

All concerned residents should attend this Council Meeting.

This is the Notice of Motion:

NOTICE OF MOTION FINGERBOARDS MINERAL SANDS MINING PROJECT

We will report back on the success or otherwise of the motion and advise you which Councillors did not support the motion (i.e. oppose the mine project).

Clearly, Councillors who do not oppose this project are out-of-step with community concerns and expectations of their representation.

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UPDATE: 17th November 2017

Council has not accepted our Notice of Motion, it is not included in the Agenda for the Ordinary Meeting to be held on 21st November 2017.

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Article published in the Bairnsdale Advertiser on 20th November 2017:

 

“Anti-mine motion on the shelf”.

 

BAIRNSDALE ADVERTISER 2017-11-20

 

Acknowledgement to East Gippsland Newspapers.

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Open letter from Kalbar Resources Ltd received dated 20th November 2017.

These are the statements provided by Kalbar in response to the rationale contained in the Notice of Motion:

“The ‘East Gippsland [Community] Action Group’ outlined 9 rationales for opposition to the project. Please find below our brief response to each one. If you would like more detail on any, please ask.

  1. Heavy Metals and radioactive materials- We have addressed these issues in in recently completed analyses to allay community concerns about heavy metals and radiation. Naturally occurring heavy metals are all well within safe levels. These results were presented in our latest community bulletin, fact sheets and FAQs on our webpage www.fingerboardsproject.com.au
  2. Soils – Due to erosion, the Fingerboards area is currently a significant contributor to the silt levels in the Mitchell River. Kalbar’s rehabilitation must prove it can stabilise these landscapes, so, if approved, the mine will result in a reduction in the silt problem.
  3. Dust – We must show we can control this as part of the EES. Mineral sands mines have successfully operated in areas similar to the Fingerboards, and indeed, in areas with far greater population density.
  4. Water Consumption – We state the mine will consume between 2 to 4 GL per annum, although we are working to reduce this consumption. This sounds like a big number when compared to residential use, however, in the scheme of the region and non- residential use it is not. For example, the usage of groundwater in Gippsland in dry years is around 80GL per annum (SRW Ground Water Atlas).
  5. Mitchell River and Perry River – We will not be allowed to discharge any contaminants to the rivers. Many mines operate at this or closer proximity to rivers. It should also be noted that this mine is different to many other mines, as there is no chemical separation of the minerals proposed at the Fingerboards.
  6. Potential destruction of the vegetable food bowl industry – This statement has no factual basis. Potential impacts on other land uses will be identified and addressed as part of the EES. We must prove that we will not damage agricultural activities.
  7. Degradation of the environment – Any potential environmental impacts are yet to be assessed under the Environment Effects Statement. Measures to avoid, mitigate and manage any potential adverse impacts must be established by the proponent.
  8. Rehabilitation is a serious issue with gross uncertainties – We must lodge a very substantial bond to cover cost of rehabilitation. Mineral sands mines are different to other forms of mining, such that rehabilitation occurs throughout the mine life, not at the end. Therefore, there is not a huge rehabilitation job at the end of the project.
  9. Jobs, the incentive of many jobs appears highly over-estimated – Our modelling shows a requirement for around 110 full time jobs, with the flow- on effect adding approximately another 200 jobs. The mine is not going to jeopardise jobs in the food industry. The estimates of agricultural jobs displaced by the mine are very low and are effectively the jobs that 100 hectares of plantation or dry land grazing supports. This socio-economic study is part of the EES studies and will objectively show the positive impact of the mine on jobs.”

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This is the East Gippsland Community Action Group Inc comments to the above responses from Kalbar Resources (Kalbar):

  1. Heavy Metals and radioactive materials

Figures quoted by Kalbar were based on incorrect table of max allowable levels.

Expert advice suggests that many Fingerboards gullies have reached a reasonably stable balance. Disturbance of the extent suggested by Kalbar will upset this balance. Rehabilitation is not the issue but prevention of runoff which will contain high volumes of sediment from mine pits during the mining process as a result of East Coast Lows needs to be prevented. Due to the volumes of water flowing through these gullies during these events, local knowledge suggests that control of runoff cannot be prevented. For Kalbar to suggest that this can be addressed during the rehabilitation process indicates Kalbar’s poor understanding of the problem.

  1. Soils

There is no evidence for Kalbar’s assertions. The concern raised by ECGAG is not addressed.

  1. Dust

Kalbar do not have sufficient data collected at present regarding wind days, wind speeds and wind direction. However local farmers have this knowledge. Population density is only part of the issue. The effects of dust go a lot further. Effects on potable water quality for domestic use is irrelevant of population density. Effects of dust on dry land pasture, vegetables and livestock is still another issue. Kalbar state that Mineral Sands mines have operated in similar areas, yet the examples they give do not suggest a very high level of similarity.

  1. Water Consumption.

The 4GL/pa quoted by Mine Free Glenaladale and the East Gippsland Community Action Group refers to consumption in the Bairnsdale Water Supply Area not all of Gippsland as Kalbar states quoting an 80GL figure. This misquote again reflects Kalbar’s failure to understand the geography of the area.

  1. Mitchell and Perry River

“We will not be allowed to discharge any contaminants into the river” is at odds with their statement in their Referral “Some seepage to the shallow groundwater system is expected, which may discharge to nearby waterway, potentially impacting water quality of the receiving environment.” (p20).

  1. Potential destruction of the vegetable food bowl industry

Local knowledge suggests that wind and water movement will introduce contaminants from substrata exposed by the mining process onto the river flats. There is enough local knowledge spanning generations which understands water and wind movement and does not need an EES process to be substantiated.

  1. Degradation of the Environment.

Local farmers are aware of what they can and cannot do with their soils. They know that stockpiling them will destroy organic matter, microbes and biota as well as seed. They know that the use of heavy machinery on topsoils will destroy crumb structure and that although it can be demonstrated that while water and fertiliser is applied planted seed will germinate. But they also know that if the organic matter is not there when watering and fertiliser ceases then vegetative growth will not continue.

  1. Rehabilitation is a serious issue with gross uncertainties

History clearly demonstrates that figures for bonds for rehabilitation fall well short of the cost of that rehabilitation. What may appear to be successful rehabilitation may fail a number of years later due to for instance heavy rainfall events. Miner’s concept of rehabilitation is somewhat different from farmer’s ideas. Replacement of the 400 plus mature trees cannot be replaced with any number of plantation trees.

  1. Jobs

Job figures quoted by Kalbar vary. Not all refer to local employment. In the Resource Global Network magazine Kalbar refer to employees being sourced from the Latrobe Valley. While Kalbar are yet to prove that they can control dust and contamination they are not in a position to suggest that there will be not impact on agricultural jobs in the vegetable growing industry. They do not have the local knowledge and understanding of the landscape and weather conditions that the farmers have to make such a statement.

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Ordinary Council Meeting held on 21st November 2017

This is our question lodged at Public question time:

It is understood that Councillors want to visit mines in Victoria to help them understand the impact of the Fingerboards Mineral Sands Mining Project at Glenaladale.a) Would you please confirm the location/s and reason/s for visiting these mines and approximate dates?

a) Would you please confirm the location/s and reason/s for visiting these mines and approximate dates?

b) The Fingerboards Mineral Sands Mining Project is unique for Victoria as it will be located amongst our pristine clean green vegetable and animal farming district, heritage river, water supply and Ramsar Wetlands.  Will your tour include an equivalent location?

c) It was reported in the local newspaper Cr White had only one supporter of his Notice of Motion on the Fingerboards Mineral Sands Mining Project, yet Crs Reeves, White, Roberts, Toohey and O’Connell had indicated non-support for the mine during election campaigning.  Do these Councillors now have a change of opinion?

 

Article published in the Bairnsdale Advertiser on 24th November 2017:

 

“Councillors ‘well aware’ of mine processes”

 

BAIRNSDALE ADVERTISER 2017-11-24 #2

 

Acknowledgement to East Gippsland Newspapers.

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Kalbar Resources Ltd (Kalbar) strike back in the article in the East Gippsland News on 22nd November 2017 Mine opposition ‘premature’ in response to the East Gippsland Community Action Group’s initiation of the Notice of Motion.

Despite Kalbar’s wishes to gag the community, the community should continue to ask questions and oppose the project as it is fundamentally flawed and not in the best interests of East Gippsland and the Fingerboards district directly.

Mining while an essential industry in Australia’s economy must be undertaken at strategic sites. The Fingerboards is East Gippsland premiere food bowl and any risk to this industry should not be entertained. Food for the population is a higher priority. Mineral sands mining directly next to this food bowl and our water supply is definitely not compatible.

Food production is a growing industry at the Fingerboards and will serve Australia and its export markets for ongoing generations. The stumbling block appears to be the farmers are constrained on water rights, therefore, the industry cannot dramatically expand and increase employment.

Is it not strange that Kalbar has been guaranteed a water supply of over 4GL per annum (which is more than the full consumption of the City of Bairnsdale’s 29,000 households and 3,500 commercial properties) while farmers are unable to increase their allocations?

Kalbar originally quoted up to 80 new jobs, but have now stated in this current article: “over 20 years, creating about 110 direct jobs and 200 indirectly”.  Are these full-time jobs, will they be filled by people from the immediate area, etc?

The issue is why risk 2,000+ existing food production jobs (and the flow on employment) for 110 possible jobs in a short-term industry against an industry that is growing and more important to our community.

Below is our response to Kalbar, by letter to the editor.

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Letter to the editor: Have Your Say – Bairnsdale Advertiser on 8th December 2017:

 

Acknowledgement to East Gippsland Newspapers.

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