Plans for Lake Cowal Gold Mine Teeter Will Barrick Gold Proceed With The Lake Cowal Gold Mine in Australia?

December 13, 2002

To its shareholders, Barrick Gold boasts a five-year US$2-billion development plan to increase its gold production by 21 per cent to 6.9 million ounces in 2006 yet plans to develop the Lake Cowal gold project in Australia have struck obstacles and delays.

In an affidavit of 29 November 2002 read to the New South Wales Land and Environment Court, Roger Bennetts, Group Commercial Manager of Barrick Gold of Australia Limited, states his concerns that "unless the approved project is physically commenced by 25 March 2004 the development consent will lapse."

Bennetts states that delays to the Cowal gold project due to litigation and the "unexpectedly protracted time to procure" permits to salvage and destroy Aboriginal artefacts "have materially reduced the Project's ability to absorb any further delays."

"The timeline for completion of drilling, detailed mine design, preparation of pre-construction management plans and commencement of mine construction, is in my opinion now a very"tight" timeline." said Bennetts.

The litigation which Bennetts refers to are a series of court actions led by Wirdajuri Elder, Neville "Chappy" Williams to halt the destruction of Aboriginal artefacts, scar trees and sacred sites at Lake Cowal, the "Heartland of the Wiradjuri Nation" where Barrick Gold has plans for an open cut cyanide leach gold mine.

In its most recent court decision earlier this month, the Land & Environment Court of New South Wales granted an urgent interim injunction suspending the operation of permits and consents issued by the National Parks and Wildlife Services (NSW) to Barrick Gold to salvage and destroy artefacts at the proposed Lake Cowal gold project.

Barrick Gold faces other problems as well at Lake Cowal.

"Barrick is coming up against a wall in their plans for an open pit gold mine at Lake Cowal," said Ruth Rosenhek, Spokesperson for the Coalition to Protect Lake Cowal. "Not only have they been facing ongoing court action, they have allowed their water licences to lapse. These licences are critical for the operation of a gold mine; without these they cannot proceed and there is strong opposition to the re-issuance of these licences.

"A gold mine project at Lake Cowal would face huge environmental challenges. Barrick has pulled the wool over the eyes of their shareholders to boast a cash cost of $170 an ounce, a 25 percent reduction from their prevailing costs. Surely, the only way to do so would be to cut corners wherever possible and we will not allow this to happen. The Coalition to Protect Lake Cowal will continue to support the Traditional Custodians of this Land to stand up for their sacred cultural heritage."

For more information contact:

Ruth Rosenhek
Ph: 61-2-66213294
Website: http://www.rainforestinfo.org.au/