Community feedback forces Peak to rethink vent rise plans

In response to unfavourable community feedback, Aurelia Metals announced last week they were considering an alternative plan for the Great Cobar exploration decline at Peak Gold Mine (PGM).

The proposal was floated at PGM’s quarterly community information night last week.

Aurelia’s environment group manager Jonathon Thompson said the Great Cobar exploration decline was approved in July this year.

Mr Thompson said while all of the monitoring showed emissions and noise would be at normal levels, staff however had a re-think after they received negative feedback from the community concerned about the construction of a vent rise only 450m from town.

The vent rise was needed as part of the exploration work to provide ventilation to the mine to maintain a safe working environment.

Mr Thompson said the proposed amendment to the Great Cobar exploration decline vent rises (yet to be approved) would have some short term, temporary impacts but would lead to significant advantages to the original plan.

“The proposed plan would involve a box cut with a 500m service decline.

“The decline would extend 100m below the surface and connect to the vent rise.

“The original plan had the exhaust air rise approximately 450m from the Heritage Centre and preschool,” Mr Thompson explained.

“However, the proposed amendment would relocate the exhaust air rise approximately 1km from the Heritage Centre and 900m from the preschool.”

He said it will exhaust in a direction away from town.

“No vent fan would be required during the exploration phase however, pending approval for mining, the plan would be to place a vent fan at the top of the vent rise and at the bottom of the service decline.

“This would mean the vent fan would be located 100m underground which would negate any noise from the vent fan,” he said.

Cr Julie Payne, who had voiced her concerns about air quality and noise from the project at PGM’s quarterly meeting in March, was pleased to hear the alternative plans announced at last week’s meeting.

“This is positive. I’m pleased that Aurelia listened to the feedback and did something about it. Well done!” Cr Payne said.

Mr Thompson said Peak Gold Mines has spent significant time and resources consulting with the community regarding the future plans for Great Cobar.

“The relocation of the vent rises demonstrates what collaboration between Peak and the community can achieve.

“Peak hope to continue to build and foster this relationship with the community,” he said.

At last week’s meeting PGM staff also gave an update on their water supply; provided a summary of employment statistics (which has increased over the past quarter); outlined their “very good” exploration results from Kairos (formerly Peak Deeps); gave an update on their air quality and vibration monitoring; and spoke about their community involvement and support over the past quarter.

PGM General manger Neal Valk also gave an update on the Process Plant maintenance and upgrade program which is an investment of $53M by Aurelia.

Mr Valk said while some materials were sourced out of town, 45 local vendors (including steel fabricators, labour hire etc) had been used on the project to date and $10.5M had been spent through local vendors which equates to 21 per cent of the total project.