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Big bangs too strong

Wednesday, 9th January, 2013

By Andrew Robertson

Staff from the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) will meet with CBH Resources today to discuss underground firing which continues to attract complaints from residents.

The EPA said yesterday that it had received a further two complaints about the firings in the last seven days, including one yesterday afternoon which followed a large blast at the company’s Rasp Mine on Monday night.

The mine’s manager, Tony Davis, said while a lot of explosives were used in that firing, which was on the 8 level, it did not come close to exceeding vibration limits.

“It was large in terms of tonnes fired but not large in terms if vibration,” Mr Davis said.

Numerous complaints have been made to the EPA and CBH since underground firing commenced at Rasp in the middle of the year.

The company has never breached the vibration limits which are set by the EPA.

In a statement to the BDT the Acting Director of EPA South, Craig Bretherton, said: “The EPA is following up with CBH about last night’s blast and will be meeting with the company shortly to discuss blasting procedures and other matters.” 

Mr Davis revealed that the company last month letter-dropped 200 households close to the mine, inviting residents to an information session.

Just eight people attended the hour-long session, which focussed mainly on noise and vibration, including four from Eyre Street and two each from Argent and Crystal streets.

The invitation came after the EPA received four complaints in one week about underground firing at Rasp.

“We didn’t open it up to the whole city because we wanted to target key stakeholders,” Mr Davis said.

“So we felt to give them the briefing and hear from us, that was an appropriate cause of action.”

Mr Davis said the number of residents who attended would not have been a true reflection of the level of interest in the issue.

He put the lower than expected turnout partly down to some people not wanting to “trust” the company.

This was disappointing, he said, because CBH genuinely wanted to limit the impact its mining had on residents.

“Yes, it’s a mining town but it’s also a town and they have to co-exist.

“We understand there’s an impact on the community.

“We’re both (EPA and CBH) trying to achieve the same objective, which is to minimise any risk of community impact.”

Mayor Wincen Cuy said as long as the company was within the guidelines it had done nothing wrong.

But he suggested that if the firings were still generating complaints, the guidelines regarding vibration limits may have to be reviewed.

“Are they one size fits all or are they designed to fit local conditions, because our conditions are completely different to 99 per cent of other mining communities,” Mayor Cuy said.

“If they are set for conditions that are different than Broken Hill maybe we need to look at (the guidelines).”

Mayor Cuy, who lives in the North, said Monday’s firing was the first one he had ever felt at his home.

“We just had a little bit of a rumble but it was the first time we had,” he said.

“I think why we are noticing it so much is because it is so close to the surface.”

He urged residents to pursue the company if they had legitimate concerns about the impact the firings were having on their homes and businesses.

The Broken Hill and District Branch of the National Trust said a lot of money had been spent restoring many of the city’s heritage buildings and it would be a concern if any were to be damaged as a result of mining.

“We don’t want to stop that but how severe does the blasting need to be?” chairman Fran McKinnon said.

“Mining comes and goes but buildings will be there forever, we hope.”

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