Lack of Free, Prior and Informed Consent: From the beginning of the Lake Cowal Gold Mine Project, there has been a lack of consulation with the Wiradjuri Traditional Owners. Barrick Gold does not uphold Aboriginal peoples rights to Free, Prior and Informed Consent under which no significant interventions can go ahead without consent of local communities and indigenous peoples. The Lake Cowal Gold Project is situated on and wreaking destruction on the Sacred Heartland of the Wiradjuri Nation.
Barrick Gold has not provided Wiradjuri Traditional Owners with details/inventory of Aboriginal cultural heritage materials recorded at Lake Cowal. Barrick Gold has not provided information to Wiradjuri Traditional Owners on what has happened to scarred trees and thousands of artefacts collected in the Mining Lease Area and surrounding region. Barrick has not advised Traditional Owners of the results of sub-surface work carried out on the former Game Reserve which is now covered by mine infrastructure.
This lack of transparency and responsible dissemination of information extends further to the so-called Community Consultation Committee which only permits representation from local landholders and a designated group that receives funds from Barrick Gold called the Lake Cowal Foundation. While there is a "community complaints" phoneline, the public are not invited to be part of the Committee meetings. Some members of the "community" from West Wyalong and Condobolin have toured the mine in specially arranged bus tours arranged by Barrick, but generally it is highly secured and the public cannot enter.
Environmental risks for the project have been under-evaluated and glossed over in many instances. For example, the worst drought in 100 years is not taken into account. Nor the subsequent lack of water available for agriculture and the mine. The project uses precious water from the Bland Paleochannel (Wiradjuri Dreaming place and underground water source) which is the best water and used for domestic purposes as well as stock. So far 20 to 30 farmers who use the channel are affected by the serious drop in groundwater levels (30 metres in two and a half years), but this deficiency and its affects could extend to up to 80 farmers along the channel and the town of Quandialla if the groundwater levels drop much further.
There have been a number of incidents with mine workers, e.g. food at Barrick's accommodation for miners at West Wyalong was infested. At the end of last year, sub-contractors were sacked and flown out of the area without even being allowed to pick up their tools. Some were reinstated, after the unions went to the Industrial Relations Commission, but others never got their jobs back.
Rainforest Information Centre
Box 368, Lismore 2480 NSW
* El proyecto Lake Cowal (2003)
Dirección: Ruth Rosenhek
* El agua es más preciosa que el oro
* Salvemos el lago Cowal Aviso publicitario de 30 segundos producido por el Rainforest Information Centre http://www.appiko.org/video/ad_v.html
LINKS EN INTERNET:
Campaña por el Lago Cowal
Salvemos el Lago Cowal