Gold mining a possible hazard

THE LAND around Wild Cattle Creek and Tyringham, south of Nymboida, could be sitting on a gold mine of valuable natural minerals – literally.

Mineral exploration company Anchor Resources Ltd has been conducting tests around the area for several years and has already detected significant deposits of antimony and also tungsten near Wild Cattle Creek. Now it looks like gold can be added to that list, with recent testing done in the nearby Tyringham area indicating possible deposits of the precious metal.

“The Tyringham prospect is interpreted to represent a large reduced intrusion-related gold system – a class of deposit that was not recognised at the time of gold discovery at Tyringham. Deposits of this type include multi-million ounce gold mines such as Fort Knox, Pogo and Donlin Creek (Alaska) and Kidston (Australia),” Anchor Resources Ltd outlined in a statement.

While early testing has turned up promising results, Anchor Resources plans to conduct deeper drilling later this year to better gauge the extent of the deposit.

The possibility of gold reserves combined with the high current price of antimony – recently trading about US$16,000/tonne – makes the land around Wild Cattle Creek and Tyringham a potentially lucrative site for mining.

However, while the discovery could represent a potential bonanza financially, John Edwards of the Clarence Environment Centre in South Grafton is concerned about the possible environmental and health implications of future antimony and gold mining operations in the target area. Of particular concern was the site's proximity to the Nymboida Catchment area and the use of chemicals, such as cyanide, which are commonly used in the gold extraction process.

“Gold mining is a particularly dirty job. They use acids and all sorts of things,” Mr Edwards said.

“If you're talking Tyringham, it's even worse because that runs straight into the regional water supply. It's in the catchment of the Nymboida River so you're looking at the water supply for the entire region from Iluka to past Sawtell.”

Mr Edwards raised as a case-in-point the Timbarra Gold Mine near Tenterfield, which was closed in 2001 after heavy rainfall caused cyanide holding ponds to overflow – something the mine's owners had assured was virtually impossible.

Mr Edwards said the centre would take a “wait-and-see approach” to the Tyringham/Wild Cattle Creek situation until more details were known.

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