This article and image was published in the ARK newsletter, summer 2008, by Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary. Download the newsletter (1.5 mb pdf) for more information on mining at Mt Gee.
More than three months after an official inspection revealed that Marathon Resources had buried mining and other waste in an unauthorised manner at Mt Gee, a clean-up of the site has not commenced. The State government is yet to determine how Marathon Resources will retrieve and dispose of the buried waste. Adelaide-based mineral exploration company Marathon Resources commenced exploration mining in the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary in late 2005. Exploration activity has been undertaken at Mt Gee, near the Armchair and at a site in Yudnamutana Gorge. Exploration Licence (EL) 3258 explicitly states that the company must ensure that
“ all relevant employees and contractors are advised of the
environmental objectives of the program and their
environmental management responsibilities”
“all pollutants and waste materials should be removed from the site”
With their obligations clearly defined in a binding document, Marathon Resources chose to bury 35 tonnes of drill samples stored in 22 800 plastic and calico bags, at the base of Mt Gee. Overalls, pvc pipe, packing material and plastic jars were also found buried in the two trenches.
A third trench containing 3.5 tonnes of mineral waste was identified at Hodgkinson’s in Yudnamutana Gorge, a site of higher-grade uranium mineralisation. Here, 1700 bags of mineral residue were placed in sixteen 200 litre metal and plastic drums, which were buried “in a way that operatives believed at the time to be in compliance with EPA guidelines.” (-Chairman Peter Williams) The trench is located by a gully that produces high-energy run-off during major rain events. Inevitably the trench will be destroyed in a major flood event, like those of 1984 and 1989. The drums are unlikely to remain intact in the boulder strewn floodwaters that flow east to the Lake Frome Regional Reserve.
On February 12 the Premier announced that Marathon’s lease at Mt Gee would be suspended indefinitely until the company had undertaken a clean-up of the site and satisfied other conditions. However Marathon were able to continue operations at drill-holes that had been commenced before the inspection and did not fully demobilise for a further four weeks. On the day of the premier’s announcement, Chairman Peter Williams stated that Marathon had enough information to enable the company to move onto the next phase of planning for a uranium mine at Mt Gee.
Links to further discussion on Marathon at Mt Gee in Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary:
• Rosetta Moon
• Unknown SA
• Serve the People
Have your say – email complaints to:
ASIC : email@example.com
DEH : Lachlan.Wilkinson@environment.gov.au