Home | Friday 17th April 2009 | Issue 672
Last Sunday (12th) 28 protesters were arrested at Lake Cowal, western NSW, Australia, in protest against Barrick Gold’s giant open-cast gold mine. The mine uses a deadly cyanide process and takes huge amounts of water from a continent suffering its worst droughts for a century. Barrick Gold – the world’s largest gold mining company, run the mine on land taken from the Wiradjuri people – and it was with authorisation from these traditional owners that the protesters entered the site. As they occupied the pit of the mine, stopping work, another group of fifteen blockaded the main gate while Wiradjuri people performed a smoking ceremony.
This mine isn’t just about the stealing of aboriginal land on a massive scale. It uses a large-scale toxic process to leech gold from the ore using copious quantities of water and tonnes of cyanide. Fifteen million litres of water is pumped per day from bores, sucking dry a wide area, including the Murry-Darling River basin - also depleted due to the heavy irrigation of nearby tracts of agricultural land. Millions of litres of a highly toxic cyanide solution drain back into the water table.
Protests – and legal action - from the Wiradjuri people has been going on for a decade against the mine, including annual gatherings. “We asked our supporters to enter the mine site to bear witness to the destruction and document the mine’s impact. It is important that Wiradjuri maintain access to our cultural sites,” said traditional owner Neville Chappy Williams. It’s suspected that thousands of artefacts were found and disturbed during the mine’s construction and are being kept secretly in a fenced compound within the mine site.
* See http://sydney.indymedia.org.au and www.savelakecowal.org