A FORUM on mining on the Coffs Coast attracted a modest but interested audience of about 40 people to the North Coast Regional Botanic Garden yesterday.
A similar forum was held in Bellingen on Saturday, where it attracted around 50 people.
The guest speakers were Michael and Julie McNamara, from the Lock the Gate Alliance, a lobby group for landowner and communities affected by mining, especially coal seam gas mining.
They spoke about the taxpayer-funded research support provided to mining companies by the State Government during the mineral exploration phase.
Aerial surveying for coal seam gas began on the North Coast in May this year.
Mr and Mrs McNamara, who live in the Tweed Shire, are not directly affected by mining but have been outraged by the lack of community consultation about mining proposals for their region and others.
Mr McNamara reminded his audience that the Crown reserved ownership and the right to explore for all mineral resources underground and that collecting royalties from mining companies was ‘easy money’ for governments.
However, those governments were apt to forget that those minerals were in fact owned in common for the benefit of the community.
The couple also spoke about the importance of community activism in improving the treatment of landholders and communities affected by mining.
Coffs Harbour City councillor Mark Graham spoke about specific mining proposals for the Coffs Coast area, particularly a proposal to mine antimony on a property at Wild Cattle Creek on a tributary of the Nymboida River, which feeds into the regional water supply for Coffs Harbour and Grafton.
Cr Graham said that Nana Glen, Glenreagh and Nymboida were all landscapes where companies were seeking to explore for coal seam gas and Centius Gold was proposing an open cut mine to extract gold and copper at Bobo on the Eastern Dorrigo, on another tributary of the Nymboida River.
Cr Graham said the community had to band together to protect the Coffs Coast from damage to its water catchment and the environment which sustained its vital tourism industry as well as its farming and fishing.
Cr Graham said Anchor Resources, which was proposing to mine antimony at Wild Cattle Creek, was now 97% owned by a Chinese mining company, China Shandong Jinshunda Group Co Ltd.
It had a proposal to mine in an area which had received more than 900mm of flooding rain in less than 24 hours on March 31, 2009 and which often recorded more than three metres of rain a year.
Antimony and arsenic from past mining activities had contaminated 65km of the Macleay River and meant that the village of Bellbrook could not use its water supply when it rained, the councillor said.
Past antimony processing had created a dead zone at the Urunga Lagoon.
He said these problems were impossible to remediate and any jobs gained in mining were not likely to replace jobs lost in tourism and farming.