An example of the minerals on offer in the Clarence
An example of the minerals on offer in the Clarence Costillo Copper

Future CV: Time for a copper mine on the Clarence?

WHEN people imagine how best to capitalise on the natural assets of the Clarence, there are probably very few who think "open-cut copper mine".

But exploration is happening.

The river system in the Clarence was an intrinsic part of its identity and the basis of much of its economic potential and the number of exploration licences for copper in the Valley has been a concern for many.

Exploration for copper in Cangai started in 2017 by Castillo and the company has since reported finding high-grade copper near the site of the old Cangai mine, leading to community members to speak out against a potential mine.

John Edwards of the Environment Centre said exploration licences should not be allowed in areas that were "too sensitive", including the Clarence river catchment area.

"There are obviously areas that should never be mined, the Government should be - in fairness to the miners as much as anybody else - remapping mining leases," he said.

"If mining companies go and spend significant amounts of money and they find something they have an expectation that they can dig it out and exploit it.

"It needs to be made clear to them right at the outset that they can't mine in certain areas."

Cangai was not the only place being explored for minerals, with German start-up Sons of Bavaria holding a licence for areas around Ewingbar and Corazon conducting exploration at Mount Gilmore.

All three companies had been reporting positive results after initial exploration at the sites.

Karen von Ahlefeldt of the Clarence Catchment Alliance was fearful of the impact a "toxic industry" like copper mining could have on the Clarence and Mann rivers, and was working with other community members to put a stop to the projects.

"We are concerned that once any of these licences are granted, it may be hard to stop the wheels from turning - can you imagine an open-cut mine at Cangai?" she said.

"Who knows what could happen, there is always going to be human error."



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