Mine decision on hold
Wednesday, 20th January, 2010
By Darrin Manuel
There will be no decision made on the future of the Rasp Mine for another week after the issue was deferred at City Council's Extraordinary Monthly Meeting last night.
Discussion regarding a recommendation by Council's Group Manager of Sustainability, Peter Oldsen, to approve the development application for ancillary surface mining was postponed until Council's regular monthly meeting on January 27. The DA was lodged by CBH Resources' subsidiary Broken Hill Operations Pty Ltd (BHOP), and proposes to undertake crushing and stockpiling of ore at the Rasp Mine site and the transport of ore to the Endeavour Mine in Cobar for processing. Mr Oldsen's report on the DA recommended that it be approved for a temporary period of two years, subject to conditions.
Mayor Wincen Cuy declared a pecuniary interest in the matter and left Council Chambers accordingly, leaving newly-elected Deputy Mayor Neville Gasmier to chair proceedings. Councillor Tom Kennedy successfully moved that that 15 minutes of question time be given to members of the public gallery prior to the development application being discussed.
During this time Residents Against Contaminated Environments (RACE) members Kathy Holmes and Jason Gould voiced their displeasure at Mr Oldsen's report, citing a lack of consultation with the public, the possibility of heavy metal and lead contamination, and the need for independent lead testing. Both also had concerns about lead dust being spread in high winds, with the report stating that production would cease if winds of 50kmh or more were evident.
Mr Gould and Mrs Holmes said that earlier reports had shown winds of just 30kmh were strong enough to spread dust over all of Broken Hill. The RACE group also gave Councillors a 10-page submission before the meeting, which outlined their own concerns and findings in relation to the Rasp Mine proposal.
This development prompted Mr Kennedy to move an amendment that the issue be heard at Council's next meeting. This, he said, would give Councillors ample time to read the RACE submissions and ensure that all parties were fully informed before reaching a decision. The amendment passed and the motion was carried unanimously. Acting Mayor Neville Gasmier said the decision to postpone a decision had been made in the interests of Broken Hill residents.
"I guess we want to be seen to be giving everyone an opportunity to put their view forward. "There was a late submission from residents of Broken Hill and to be fair, we need time to consume that information." Mr Gasmier said he would hate to see a recurrence of the city's past problems with lead and pollution from mining. "I guess when there's a mine located in the (middle) of any city there's going to be noise, there's going to be dust. "They're the issues we're certainly concerned about, historically that was an issue.... we don't want to go down that path again."
In other Council matters a recommendation to accept a tender from Impact Environmental regarding the development of a new integrated waste management strategy was accepted. A report from Group Manager of Sustainability, Peter Oldsen, said the $119,001 tender from Impact Environmental best met a Council Evaluation Panel's assessment criteria. The motion met some resistance from Councillor Kennedy, who found the cost to be exorbitant and the process likely to be carried out by people unfamiliar with Broken Hill's needs.
Mr Kennedy put forward an unsuccessful amendment requesting that the decision be postponed until the next meeting of Council's Environmental Services Committee. Such a delay would have resulted in a higher tender cost as submitted prices become invalid after January 23. A second amendment to employ an individual to review Council's waste management was also voted down.