Exploratory digging taking place but no community consultation

Exploratory digging north of Clunes has residents worried about the possible environmental and health implications for the community.

Residents reported spotting a 30-tonne drilling rig positioned one kilometre north of the township, on the Clunes Common Nature Conservation Reserve, from March 6.

The rig seemingly disappeared last Friday.

DIGGING: The drilling rig in Clunes. Photo: Ann Jeffree

DIGGING: The drilling rig in Clunes. Photo: Ann Jeffree

Exploratory works are being undertaken by Bonshaw Gold, a subsidiary of Mt Rommel Mining.

Clunes Mine Action Group residents are upset by the lack of community consultation, especially as it is a term of the company’s licence.

The licence states “(the licence holder) must fulfil their duty to consult and provide timely updates to the community, usually via a website, to inform the community about proposed activities”.

Bonshaw Gold has been providing updates to its shareholders via the National Stock Exchange but has not informed community members in any capacity.

A recent update on the NSX on February 19, stated the company intended to conduct low-impact diamond drilling around March 7. 

CMAG says Bonshaw Gold has a history of witholding information from the community.

Residents made an objection to the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources in 2015 about a separate drilling licence, which was barred when council unanimously voted to block the company from drilling on its land due to possible health and environmental impacts. 

Despite this, the department issued Bonshaw Gold with an exploration licence on January 30.

CMAG co-convener Peter Rice said their issue was not with the exploration or mining but the lack of consultation about intent and potential for ongoing health implications to the community and unknown impact to water supply.

Bonshaw Gold has not specified what it is doing with contaminated waste water, raising concerns about run-off poisoning aquatic fauna.

A departmental spokesperson for Earth Resources Regulation stated it has been working with the company.

“Earth Resources Regulation inspectors have visited the site to remind the licensee of its obligation to consult local communities.

“It will continue to emphasise the importance of the operator working with locals to keep them more informed,” it said in a statement.