In an effort to further educate the public and dispel some of the rumours about their proposed new Great Cobar mining project, Aurelia Metals and Peak Gold Mines held more community information sessions last week.
The mine offered an informal drop-in session throughout the day last Wednesday at the Cobar Bowling & Golf Club with members of the public encouraged to call in and speak with mine staff as well as EMM planning and environment consultants, who have been engaged by the mine to assess the project.
Ellie Evans, a senior environmental scientist with independent consulting firm EMM, explained that community consultation was part of the statutory process, legislated by NSW State Government guidelines.
“We’re in the scoping phase at the moment.
“We’ve got a pretty good idea what the project is going to be but we don’t have exact locations or the exact infrastructure of the mine,” Ms Evans explained.
“We’re trying to get some feedback from the community – what’s important to them, what are they worried about, then we can use that process to feedback into the design.”
She said from there they will compile a scoping report which includes a brief summary of the main concerns of the project.
Ms Evans said the report details who they’ve talked to, the key feedback they receive, what values they find that are important to the community, and what the community’s hopes will come out of it.
“From that we get given a Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEAR) which basically say, for this project you need to work out what are going to be the impacts to air quality, you need to assess the minimum of this area, you need to do this to these regulations, etc.
“A lot of them are standard for all mining projects but some of them will be specific for this because it’s going to be so close to the town,” Ms Evans said.
“There’s going to be extra assessment requirements for things like blasting vibration.
“Once we’ve got our ‘to do list’ from the government then it means we can do the assessment proper.
“There’s the technical assessments, ie air quality, ground water, noise, they’ll be a technical specialist for each of those.
“There will be more sessions like this,” she said.
Ms Evans said this was just the start of a long process.
She estimated it would take about two years before they would get a determination from the Minister of Department of Planning Industry and Environment before Peak can start mining.
“It’s a not a quick process, there’s very specific guidelines,” she said.
While poorly attended, with just 12 members of the public dropping in throughout the seven hour session, Aurelia Metals environment group manager Jonathon Thompson said they would continue to hold community sessions.