Green's contamination fears

THE Clarence Valley's pristine water supply, fishing, dairy, beef, horticulture and tourism industries could all be placed at risk if antimony mining is allowed to proceed in the river catchment, according to Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham.

Mr Buckingham said antimony was a poisonous heavy metal and residents only needed to look at antimony poisoning in the Macleay catchment to understand what damage it could do here.

And he wants the Clarence by-election to become a virtual referendum on proposed antimony mining in the Wild Cattle Creek area and gold mining on the Dorrigo Plateau.

His concerns have been heightened by a spill from the Hillgrove mine near Armidale. It started operations about 100 years ago and has been mothballed since 1997, but has had four overflow events that have led to pollution of the Macleay and its tributaries from Hillgrove to the ocean.

Mr Buckingham said the water in the Macleay had now been deemed unfit to drink.

He said there had also been a recent fish kill in the area.

Environment Minister Robyn Parker said there had been testing which showed no antimony poisoning, but the Department of Primary Industries later said no testing had been done.

Mr Buckingham said the Hillgrove mine used what could be considered a safer mining technique than that proposed for Wild Cattle Creek.

He said underground drilling was used at Hillgrove, but open-cut mining was proposed for Wild Cattle Creek.

"I've got no confidence this could be done without considerable risks to the water," he said.

"Open-cut mining uses a huge volume of water that then needs to be dealt with.

"It is proposed it would be 1.5km long and a couple of hundred metres wide in very steep country with high rainfall."

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