Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Challenger Mine challenges social justice and environmental concerns

(The Challenger Gold Mine, above)

I was having a look at a post on Marathon and comments in a thread that followed in a recent edition of the Coober Pedy Regional Times ( ).

Coober Pedy is an opal mining town in South Australia’s outback. The thread has some interesting comments about another lease at Arkaroola that I’ll follow up on shortly.

However, this comment by “Jacinta” caught my eye:

1. Jacinta, on October 30th, 2008 at 1:32 am Said:

Is Challenger in the Arkaroola Sanctuary? - cyanide killing the wildlife.

While everyone here is talking about mining - I don’t know what practices they use in the Flinders Ranges at the copper mine but we spoke to a chap today whose job it was at a mining company in South Australia to handle cyanide tablets (without gloves) and was told not to worry about it when he reported that the big tank full of cyanide was running over the edges onto the ground.

(I read on the internet that cyanide is any chemical compound that contains the cyano group (C≡N), which consists of a carbon atom triple-bonded to a nitrogen atom.) but this is not very clear.

The reason he was upset was because he heard talks about their safe practices and because he is an aborigine he liked the idea of working on his own land in the desert. They said they want to employ aborigines but he was given a pretty bad job. He said they don’t really seem to like aborigines but they have to employ some because of something the goverment said.

After he got upset with the tanks spilling over he asked someone what cyanide was and found out it was poisonous. He thought it was some sort of chemical. He spoke to the bosses about the poison spilling on the ground all the time and said they should be taking care of the environment. He asked them if they got him to do that job because he was a black-fellow and why didn’t they tell him to use gloves. They sacked him. He isn’t even allowed back to pick up his belongings.
Does Arkaroola or the Flinders have a mine called Challenger over there? I only ask because of the water under the ground and this guy said it was bucketting out of this huge tank all the time like they had plenty to waste.

I notice people are talking about water a lot right now and wonder how come the mines can do all this stuff and have plenty of free water. I also heard that the government doesn’t really check as long as they pay money they can do a lot of damage and have free water. The other problem is the birds and animals that drink from water lying around the mine were dying. He said there were a lot of dead things around the place on the mine site.

He told us they use heaps of water and was worried because it might be running out. I know the aborigines are worried about the water. He said it’s like a spider web of streams under the ground and they used to be able to dig for it so it can’t be too deep and this stuff might get into it and poison some of the communities who have bores.

That’s all we’ve heard at the moment. He’s gone somewhere else now but it would be good to know how to have it checked.

Anyone with an idea about this can write to me on here cos we read it nearly every day.
thanks Jacinta

It’s a damning indictment of the attitudes of some of the other cowboys in the mining game: attitudes towards indigenous labour; occupational health and safety; environmental damage; unfair dismissal.

“Jacinta” asks where Challenger, the mine on which her informant must have worked, is. It’s the other side of Tarcoola, on the northern side of the Trans Australian Railway.

It’s a gold mine, which explains the use of cyanide, used in the leaching process to extract gold. They produce over 100,000 ounces of gold annually and the mine life expected to extend beyond 2010.

The owners, Dominion Gold Operations Pty Limited, awarded a subsidiary of the giant construction company Leighton Contractors, a 4-year contract extension worth approximately $100 million to provide a complete mining service at the Challenger operation.

Makes me puke that a company that is doing so well out of the traditional lands of indigenous peoples can treat someone with a custodial perspective towards the land and its creatures in the way that Jacinta describes above.

What are you going to do about this one, Paul “Hollowman” Holloway, Minister for Primary Industries?

What about you, Miner Mike Rann, “popular” Premier of SA (appropriately, to the right)?

(We won’t even bother asking Ministers with responsibility for indigenous affairs and the environment since they’ve long been missing in action).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

unemployment will also cut the ability to pay c,c . debt and houses off too.
also by the way ,the citic hong kong bank losses were made by a bet placed by a 'red princess "on A$ to purchace share in olympic dam
a daughter of Zu rong shi or whatever his name was .A top dengist shit economics expert .
excuse my anglo chauvinst chinese,spelling i just used to try and remember his name as zu rong one.