Cowal Gold Mine extension approved after lengthy process

Barrick Gold received the state government tick on Wednesday to operate the Cowal Gold Mine near West Wyalong for a further five years, until 2024.THE West Wyalong community was rejoicing on Thursday following the long-awaited approval of the Cowal Gold Mine extension.

Barrick Gold received the state government tick on Wednesday, which will allow them to operate the mine for a further five years, until 2024.

The community has endured a nervous and frustrating wait since the modification application was lodged in June last year and the announcement follows months of intense lobbying from council for a determination.

Bland Shire mayor Neil Pokoney said the community could now look towards a positive future.

“This represents a huge boost to our local economy and the broader region in general,” Councillor Pokoney said.

“It provides a level of certainty that is very important for the community.

“We can now go forward in the knowledge that mining will continue to play an important role in providing greater employment opportunities for locals for some time to come.”

The approval will allow Barrick Gold to extend the existing open cut, within the existing enclosure, to access additional gold bearing ore adjacent to it.

Doing so will increase the total estimated gold production for the life of the mine to 3.8 million ounces.

No changes are proposed to the existing mining lease area, mining method or intensity of annual production.

According to the New South Wales Minerals Council, the mine injects more than $35 million into the local economy each year.

The mine directly employs more than 200 staff, while more than 130 businesses in the Bland Shire are supported through spending by mining operations.

Cowal Gold Mine general manager Alan Fearon said the announcement was good news for Barrick, the employees of the mine and the broader community.

“I would particularly like to thank the communities of the Bland, Forbes and Lachlan shires who provided such strong support for this extension modification, and for their ongoing support,” Mr Fearon said in a statement.

A NUMBER of stringent conditions have been placed on the Cowal Gold Mine to ensure adequate protection of the community and environment.

The conditions, applied by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, include a requirement to comply with strict noise and air quality criteria, a 230-hectare extension to the biodiversity offsets for the mine and a range of additional environmental management measures.

Eighty-one public submissions were received during the public exhibition of the proposal late last year, 72 of which were in favour – primarily on the grounds of employment opportunities and economic benefits.

Executive director Chris Wilson understood the community concern about the length of the assessment process, but said it was important for the department to carefully consider all of the potential impacts of the project before making its final determination.

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