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Upper House Inquiry and Report into Gold, Silver & Lead Mining Sabotaged by Government: Greens

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Cate Faehrmann
NSW Greens MP
15 December 2023

The Greens have accused the Government of deliberately sabotaging an Upper House Inquiry into the impacts of heavy metal mining projects, including Cadia’s controversial gold mine, resulting in a report with findings and recommendations that contradicts the weight of evidence heard throughout the inquiry.

The Inquiry into the current and potential impacts of gold, silver, lead and zinc mining on human health, land, air and water quality in New South Wales has just been released this morning. 

Large sections of evidence and committee comment were removed from the final report by motion of government members, supported by the opposition (see dissenting statements below). Government members also moved to block expert medical witnesses appearing who would have provided evidence of silicosis in mine workers in NSW, as well as an inspection of a polluted mine site at Captains Flat.

Committee chair, Dr Amanda Cohn said “it is devastating for the committee to have produced a report from which I must dissent significantly.”

“The finding that the regulatory bodies responsible for mining projects and the detailed frameworks they administer ‘are fundamentally sound’ goes against the vast majority of the detailed and convincing evidence the Committee received.

“I am extremely disappointed that, in the face of a huge volume of concerns regarding the human health impacts of mining projects, from nearby residents and impacted communities as well as health and environmental experts, the Committee has not made any recommendations to change current practices regarding consideration of health impacts in the assessment of mining proposals.

“This report represents a missed opportunity to recommend strengthened regulatory frameworks to protect human health, land, air and water quality.

“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the hundreds of members of community and environmental groups, and to experts, who gave up your time to contribute to the Inquiry. 

Cate Faehrmann, NSW Greens MP and spokesperson for mining, and a member of the inquiry said “Communities impacted by heavy metal mining projects will be devastated by this report which is now nothing but a political hatchet job. The Greens resoundingly reject the findings and recommendations in this report after it was sabotaged by government members intent on covering up the truth. 

“The Government should hang its head in shame at the way in which it has treated communities who participated in this Inquiry in the hope they would be heard and supported in the fight to protect the health of their families and local environment.

“The Committee heard a litany of evidence by experts and impacted locals about the systemic failings that had occurred in relation to the approval or operations of the Cadia gold mine, the Bowdens lead and silver mine, and the McPhillamys gold mine.

“This final report severely downplays the contamination issues experienced by members of the community who reside near Cadia gold mine. Substantial evidence was also removed from the final report regarding the significant impacts on water and biodiversity that McPhillamys gold mine and Bowdens lead and silver mine will have should they go ahead.

“This inquiry was an opportunity to make recommendations which could have led to a roadmap to improve the planning system so that the health of communities and the environment was better protected from heavy metals mining..”

“It is particularly galling that government members moved for a new finding that the regulatory bodies responsible for mining projects, and the detailed frameworks they administer, are fundamentally sound. After everything we heard, this is indefensible.

“This report fails the hundreds of impacted locals who have been fighting for years to protect their families, community and environment, from the onslaught of heavy metals mining in the state’s central west. However, I want to reassure impacted communities that the fight continues to stop these mines destroying their towns, waterways and livelihoods,” said Ms Faehrmann.

Dr Amanda Cohn and Ms Cate Faehrmann’s dissenting statements are included at the end of the report.

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Cate Faehrmann
NSW Greens MP
15 December 2023
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