Tuesday, February 27, 2024
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Save the Cudgegong River

Last month, many churches, including South Sydney Uniting Church, marked the liturgical Season of Creation. September 24 was River Sunday, an occasion to give thanks for rivers – precious water and minerals, plants, trees and animals of our wetlands.

River Sunday also invited critical thinking about water management and care of rivers.

Dhungatti artist Blak Douglas, formerly based in Redfern, now Rylstone, called attention to Wiradjuri Country, to majestic sandstone walls that drop to the valley where the Cudgegong River runs.

The area includes river red gum, coolabah and blackbox woodlands, water couch grasslands, lignum swamps, reed swamps, cumbungi and river cooba. Diverse vegetation provides habitat for 211 bird species, eight native mammals, 15 frog, 56 reptile and 24 native fish species.

Bowdens Silver Ltd is trying to develop a mine near the river at Lue.

Douglas said: “Bowdens Silver (it’s actually mostly lead) mine has been approved, just 20 minutes from Kandos and two kilometres from Lue Primary School. It is a devastating decision, and for anyone who watched it happen, the regulatory bodies seemed to have the sole function of moving the goal posts to accommodate this approval.

“One-point-six megalitres of arsenic, lead and cyanide-laced water will be released into the water table above Lawson Creek daily as a normal function of the mine, plus a massive 77 hectares of potential sulphuric acid-producing waste rock.”

Douglas, a member of the Mudgee Region Action Group, is concerned about the risks the mine poses “for generations to come”. Airborne lead dust, toxic heavy metal contaminants and acid mine drainage will have an immense impact on the region’s health, tourism, agriculture and wineries.

The vast lead mine at Lue is just the beginning, the group warns. Licenses for Bowdens to explore metallic mineral deposits closer to Mudgee and Rylstone have been approved.

Douglas said: “Our community wants to appeal the decision so we can protect our region. To do that, we must get the planning laws changed. We need supporters and a strong people’s voice.”

The NSW parliamentary inquiry into “Current and potential impacts of gold, silver, lead and zinc mining on human health, land, air and water quality” is coming to Mudgee in early October to hear testimonies and visit the Bowdens lead mine site.

Read the Mudgee Region Action Group’s submission to the NSW Independent Planning Commission here.

Join the mailing list and sign the petition to help protect the Cudgegong and surrounds.


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