The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has fined Big Island Mining Pty Ltd $15,000 for an alleged discharge of sediment laden water from their gold mine into a creek in the NSW Southern Tablelands.
The incident at Dargues Gold Mine, near Majors Creek, occurred on 17 September 2019. The EPA alleges that water overflowed from the tailings storage dam during heavy rainfall, causing sediment-laden water to flow into Spring Creek.
The discharge contained high concentrations of sediment. Sediment-laden water can smother water plants and other aquatic life and damage the gills of fish.
The company immediately reported the incident to the EPA and undertook work to limit the volume of the sediment-laden water discharging to the creek.
EPA Director Regulatory Operations Regional South Nigel Sargent said the EPA treats all water pollution incidents seriously.
“The Dargues Gold Mine is located in an area close to waterways that are used for drinking water. The company needs to operate their site correctly to ensure they do not have offsite impacts.
“Even though it was determined there was minimal harm to the creek, it is timely to remind all construction sites that water management controls must be appropriately designed and regularly checked.
“Polluted water must remain on the premises so it does not impact our waterways and can be appropriately re-used in mine operations or to suppress dust.
“The company has implemented environmental management and pollution control measures to reduce the likelihood of similar discharges in the future.”
Mr Sargent said the $15,000 fine for polluting waters was a reminder of the importance of considering and protecting the surrounding environment.
Penalty notices are one of several tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance, including formal warnings, official cautions, licence conditions, notices, directions and prosecutions.