A gold mine expansion in New South Wales, Australia would threathen the health of one of the country’s last remaining wetlands as well as the aboriginal populations that reside nearby. The mine is located near Lake Cowal, and the proposal is to expand the open-pit mine by 60 hectacres and the operating area to 290 hectacres, according to the Greens Mining. The expansion would require land to be cleared, placing further stress on the Myall Woodland, which is protected under the Threatened Species Act.


Tailings from the mine would almost double for a total of approximately 140 M tonnes, according to Green Mining. As a waste product, the tailings contain residual chemicals from the extraction process such as arsenic and cyanide, and an increase in waste products would mean a greater risk of exposure and environmental degradation. Dust released from the mining process would affect the air quality surrounding the lake, and the lake itself is home to a substantial population of waterbirds. Contamination of the local aquifer could severely damage the area and any leaks would alter the soil health and composition, and the chemicals used in the extraction process also pose a threat to human health. Expansion of the mine would threaten animal and plant species, the lake itself, and the surrounding ecosystems.

A nation of aboriginals, the Wiradjuri, consider the Lake Cowal area to be a sacred place, and find their cultural beliefs threatened by the very existence and expansion of this gold mine.