Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has fined Fosterville Gold Mine P/L nearly $8,000 over an industrial discharge from their premises, which spread mine slurry onto neighbouring Crown land and private property.
EPA North West Regional Manager Dr Scott Pigdon said the waste was flotation tailing slurry, a by-product of the gold mining process.
“When released into native forest and privately owned land, the slurry had the potential to significantly impact both land and waterways” Dr Pigdon said.
An EPA officer inspected the company’s McCormick’s Road site in Fosterville, and took samples after receiving a report that waste water had discharged offsite from an emergency valve on a pipeline.
The company told EPA the pipeline was shut down immediately when the discharge was discovered, and the valve on the pipeline appeared to have been tampered with and left open.
“The EPA officer observed there were no controls in place to prevent tampering with the valve and to prevent a discharge from occurring,” Dr Pigdon said.
“As a result, the slurry flowed into a series of freshwater dams, causing them to overflow. It had also spread onto Crown land managed by the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP) and a neighbouring private property approximately 450 metres east of the discharge location,” he said.
“This incident could have been prevented, or at least minimised if the duty holder had installed controls on the emergency valve to prevent un-authorised persons tampering with it,” he said.
Fosterville Gold Mine P/L has been fined $7,929 for breaching Section 27a(1)(C) of the Environment Protection Act 1970.
Under the Environment Protection Act 1970 and the Infringements Act 2008, the company has the right to have the decision to issue the infringement notice reviewed or alternatively to have the matter heard and determined by a court.