5 February 2011

Can you help? Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act Assesment Submission

| MellyG
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Author Jackie French (of the Araluen Valley) is calling for everybody to use their research skills and resources >>>>>to hunt for flaura/fauna studies for the area surrounding Major’s Creek which can be used to prevent the Dargue’s Reef mine proposal<<<<<

The Dargue’s Reef Mine proposal concerns us Canberrans, because the major waterways/water supplies of our favourite summer hide out, the South Coast, will be threatened with some pretty serious chemicals used in gold mining. Google it, its nasty stuff.

Jackie has also offered expenses and board for students/biologists/people who can identify the below species to come and take note of, and collect evidence, to demonstrate the range of endemic and endangered species in the surrounding areas.

This needs to be done now as the Federal government will announce any day now a ten day period for public submissions following its assessment of the proposal under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

Everyone and anyone can also write a letter (or forward on the template that Jackie has written) outlining their concern for the proposed development. The more letters the better.

Jackie can be contacted at jfrench@dragnet.com.au

For more info: the detailed version>>>>>>>

Opportunity to help save Araluen Valley/Major’s Creek Reserve/Deua national park/Araluen, Deua and Moruya rivers from Dargues Reef Development (Gold Mine)


A call for urgent assistance from Author Jackie French

The Department of Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population & Communities has just listed the proposed Dargues Reef Development for assessment under the EPBC Act, and approval before it can proceed.

This means there will be a brief ten day period where the public can make submissions – State and Federal legislation these days gives the public and independent investigations into developments no time to make proper assessments.

The Major’s Creek State Reserve and the Araluen gorge is a place of wonder, with more than thirty rare and endangered species, from the Araluen gum to endangered fish, powerful owls, and the green and golden bell frog, that have survived in its shelter and microclimates. It’s unlikely though that they can survive a mine and ore processing centre just upstream of them.

What happens now:

The Department has asked the developer for further information. Once that has been provided, the public will have its ten day chance to comment again.

This may be in about three weeks time, but it may be longer. It may also be possible to have an extension to comment of the developer’s submission, but it is unlikely that this will be more than a few days- not enough time for a full environmental assessment to be done.

What needs to be done now:

This will probably be the last chance to establish what rare, endangered and critically endangered species exist 1-6 km below the mine site, and how they may be affected by the mining, the loss of water to ore processing, and the chemicals used in that processing.

There have been many studies done of this area in the past thirty years, but I haven’t kept a record of them, or even of those who did them.


If you know of any flora or fauna studies that have been done in the Araluen Valley, Major’s Creek Reserve, Deua national park, or Araluen, Deua or Moruya rivers, PLEASE CONTACT ME. Utilize your research resources and research skills!

If any students, or experts on any area, would like to spend a day walking through an almost bewildering beautiful gorge, to note or photograph the species there, could you contact me? We would happily provide accommodation, and pay any expenses involved. A night’s study of frog calls or noting the various species of bat here would also be wonderful, or help assessing the developer’s submission.

If you can send in a submission with information about the risks to the species below, please do. Otherwise if you can just send the email below, it will at least show that enough people care to comment- even on a proposal listed during the holiday season.

To: epbc.referrals@environment.gov.au
Heading: Dargue’s Reef Mine Proposal

To Environment Minster Tony Burke

Dear Sir,
I wish to comment on the Dargue’s Reef Mine proposal at Major’s Creek, NSW.

I am concerned that no study has been done on the threatened, endangered and critically endangered species below the mine site, nor has there been any testing done on the effect of drilling on the aquifer below the mine site, nor on the possibility of changes to the ph of the water table.

The area from 1.5-6km directly below the mine site contains the Major’s Creek National park Reserve and the Major’s Creek gorge. This area contains possibly a greater diversity of species than any other in Australia, due to its steepness, inaccessibility and extraordinary range of microclimates.

I submit that:
. a full study be done of all species directly below the mine site before approval is given for any development

. that the full scale of the proposed development be considered, not the far smaller initial development currently offered for consideration

.that no use of Xanthate or large amounts of concrete be permitted above such a fragile ecosystem, as any change to the ph of the aquifer may be devastating to the endangered species and rainforest community below it.

. that no tailings dam be permitted above such a fragile ecosystem, and that if any development were to be approved, the tailings dam be moved 1.5- 2.5 KM over the ridge to a far gentler slope, where there are no endangered species, and rough grazing land instead of the precipitous and fragile gorge ecosystems

. that no development be approved under test bores have been established and tests have been done to monitor the true movement of ground water in the area. Note: no such tests have been done by Cortona limited. Any claim that such tests have been done should be substantiated.

. that the Federal Government list and protect the following rare or endangered species that exist below the Dargue’s Reef Mine site: -Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua), Barking Owl (Ninox connivens), Majors Creek Leek Orchid(Prasophyllum sp. Majors Creek) Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby (petrogale penicillata), Gang-gang Cockatoo, , Bettong, Red Goshawk, Little Pied Bat, Squirrel Glider (Petaurus norfolcensi) the Araluen python (Liasis sp.) not yet formally identified but visually distinct from any other known python species, and the Araulen Grasslands Community, listed as threatened by the NSW Government.

. that the Minister protect the threatened, endangered and critically endangered species listed below,

Federally listed animals within four kilometres directly downstream of the mine site include:

New Holland mouse (Pseudomys novaehollandiae)
Status: vulnerable

Zieria adenophera (Araluen Zieria)
Status: endangered

Button Wrinklewort (Rutidosis leptorrhynchoides)
Status: endangered

Araluen Gum (Eucalyptus kartzoffiana)
Status: vulnerable

Grey Deua Pomaderris (Pomaderris gilmourii var. cana)
Status: vulnerable

Spotted-tailed Quoll (Dasyurus maculatus)
Status: endangered

Threatened Community Listing

Littoral Rainforest and Coastal Vine Thckets of Eastern Australia

The Major’s Creek Gorge, 1.5-4 Km downstream of the proposed development, contains one of the few existing remnants of the Backhousia myrtifolia, Ficus Coronata and tree fern rainforest, with it’s many dependent species. While other small remnants remain elsewhere, the Major’s Creek gorge is probably the most extensive. Due to the inaccessibility it has survived increased settlement and feral animal invasion as well as long periods of extreme drought, so has an excellent chance of continued survival, unless affected by a change in ph of the groundwater.

If you can help, please do contact me, and many many thanks, Jackie French. Jackie French


The Major’s Creek gorge contains possibly a greater variety of species than any similar area in Australia, including rare and endangered rain forest, partly because the steepness of some of the country means it inaccessible even to feral goats, but also because of its extraordinary range of microclimates. It would take several books and several years to do justice the species there, and their ecology, not ten days.

I’ve studied some of the species there for nearly forty years, but have little or no knowledge of others, like the endangered orchids others have told me are found here, the Eastern Bent Winged Bat, or the climbing Galaxid fish that has been found in Major’s Creek and the Deua river and various insect life.

Please- if you have any knowledge of these species, or know anyone else who does, help is desperately needed. The only way the department will know about these species is if the public tell them – ASAP. The mining company have done no flora or fauna studies in the area downstream.

It now appears that the Dargue’s Reef Mine will be at least three times larger than the development described in the present submission. Ore from other areas will be trucked to Major’s Creek and processed with Xanthate in the tailings dam at the headwaters of Major’s Creek, which flows into the Araluen, Deua and Moruya Rivers. The company propose to fill the mine with tailings mixed with concrete.

This will be a massive development. Any leak or failure of the tailings dam may mean disaster downstream, and death and possible extinction to anyone or anything downstream. Even without an accident to the tailings dam, any lowering of the water table, or, almost as bad, changing the ph from the alkaline concrete, may also mean that native species die.

Please- help us if you can.

What is the EPBC Act?

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act) is the Australian Government’s central piece of environmental legislation. It provides a legal framework to protect and manage nationally and internationally important flora, fauna, ecological communities and heritage places — defined in the EPBC Act as matters of national environmental significance.


More Information

Urgent Message from Jackie French

The Environmental Impact Assessment, very very concerning indeed


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I-filed said :

btw is there anyone other than French fighting for this cause? Unfortunately as it IS her backyard, it sounds more than a bit nimby – especially as late in the interview French started to rant about not wanting miles of tunnels under HER back yard etc. It would be good if this environmental cause had advocates who don’t live nearby … she also contradicted earlier claims to be a speed-reader, photographic memory and taking in huge tracts of complex information in moments – by saying at the end that she “doesn’t bother to finish books muchly, but skips to the last few pages after getting half way through”. Oh dear.

Smells a bit doesn’t it. Eidatic memory is photographic memory – and it is surprising how many people have various segments of this type of memory. It’s not limited to the ‘elite’ or academic (though some like to think so!).

I wouldn’t like people digging under my house – or mining for gold in my backyard (unless I was in for a cut!!) but I wouldn’t be trying to garnish world wide support for it either. In sone of the threads people said that it would have more credence if some eco-minds who didn’t live there were concerned……………..and that’s a +1 from me!

btw is there anyone other than French fighting for this cause? Unfortunately as it IS her backyard, it sounds more than a bit nimby – especially as late in the interview French started to rant about not wanting miles of tunnels under HER back yard etc. It would be good if this environmental cause had advocates who don’t live nearby … she also contradicted earlier claims to be a speed-reader, photographic memory and taking in huge tracts of complex information in moments – by saying at the end that she “doesn’t bother to finish books muchly, but skips to the last few pages after getting half way through”. Oh dear.

Jackie French is interviewed on “First Person” on ABC Radio National this afternoon 1 pm – Monica Attard putting the company’s arguments to French about the environmental impacts and putting French on the back foot a little by the sound of it. Fingers crossed that the environmental impacts will have been carefully assessed – apparently it’s currently under review by the NSW government. Earlier in the interview, French reveals some amazing stuff about herself – she has a photographic memory, so no doubt has been researching the impacts to minute detail and knows her stuff.

“Actually there never has been mining in the State Reserve- too steep and inaccessible, hence the remaining endangered species.” J.F

Any reasonable ecologist would tell you that there is no such thing as a ‘pristine’ wilderness, despite such a concept being at the heart of the conservation/ national parks system. Ecosystems are dynamic, and humans are part of ecosystems, and our interactions (ie existence) affect the health of those ecosystems. Like women, ecosystems have many values that are worth protecting other than the baseless concept of ‘virginity’.

So yes, an ecosystem can recover and become biodiverse after significant disturbance -depending of course, on the type of disturbance (which I might add are quantitatively larger in the post 19th cent age, despite the blind optimism that it SHOULD be more environmentally friendly – which can extract more stuff because we can acess more chemicals now).

But as human beings with the gift of rationality and forward planning it is good practice to assess the impact of our actions on the biotic and abiotic systems of which we are a part, so as to choose the best possible outcome for all parties involved (including potential employees – the better the industrial process the safer it is for employees, but also downstream users of the affected water source, and any other interest groups who, don’t forget, constitute the human part of our community > many of whom I am sure drink dont fit the latte cliche)

As rational and apparently advanced human beings, it is in our interest as part of the ecosystem and as part of a functioning democracy, to understand as much as we can about our actions and the potential consequences before we commit to going forward with any particular social, economic, etc endeavour. That’s what we want our government to do, right?

In the context of laws protecting endangered species and biodiversity, it is the opinion of those who are putting forward this request for assistance that the relevent environmental impact studies have not been done, and thus the EIA was floored insofar as it did not refer to all of the facts.

This thus becomes a matter of procedural justice and scientific evidence, particularly as it has been noted by several people in the area that endangered species exist in the impact area. We have laws and procedures surrounding said species, and the period of public comment constitutes a time in which to gather evidence which may shed light on the suitability of the project, or contribute to the rehabilitation process.

On top of a very long history of mining in the area, the new mine would provide jobs for several dozen people and inject several million dollars per year into the local economy.

I guess when your bank account is full to overflowing, you don’t have to give a shit about other people’s welfare.

A hop, skip, and a jump away from Major’s creek are a large number of state forest and national park areas, some of them pristine and untouched due to the nature of the terrain.

This kind of nimby nonsense is what gives rise the stereotype of well-to-do work-shy latte-sipping Greens, and is the reason I’ve had nothing to do with them for the last 10 years.

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That whole area was very heavily mined for some 50 years in the late 19th century. It must have bounced back from those environmental impacts to have rich fauna these days? I imagine a current-day mining venture would be required to be a lot kinder to the environment.

The area has a long and extensive history of gold mining, including I believe, dredging, ground and hydraulic sluicing.
It is not a pristine virgin wilderness.
The critters will survive.

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