Work suspended after dam collapses at one of Australia’s largest gold mines, Just days after an earthquake hit the area, a dam wall has collapsed at the Cadia mine near Orange by William McInnes, 10 March 2018, The Sydney Morning Herald
Operations at one of Australia’s largest gold mines had to be temporarily suspended on Friday after a partial wall collapse at one of the mine’s tailings dams.
The wall collapse at the Cadia mine comes just a few days after two earthquakes hit the area, located just south of Orange.
The wall breach was noticed in the late afternoon on Friday when workers noticed a section of the northern dam wall had collapsed into the southern tailings dam.
An aerial image showing the collapsed section of the tailings dam.
The tailings dams contain byproducts of mining and can contain materials which are harmful to the environment and human health.
The dams are generally constructed using earth-fill and gradually raised over time.
The Cadia mine is owned by Newcrest Mining, one of the largest gold mining companies in the world.
Newcrest were unable to confirm whether the recent earthquakes had contributed to the dam’s wall failure but said it was conducting a thorough investigation.
The Cadia mine is the largest gold mine in Australia.
The Cadia mine is the largest gold mine in Australia.
The company told Fairfax Media that operations at the site had been suspended pending the investigation and that the break had posed no safety threat to workers.
But National Secretary of the Australian Workers Union, Daniel Walton said that many of the workers on the site still don’t feel safe given the recent earthquakes.
“A lot of workers are worried that the mine is not taking this activity seriously enough and they do have concerns about safety,” he said.
A resident living closer to the mining operation told Fairfax Media that the northern tailings dam wall had breeched, sending tailings material into the southern tailings dam. The source said emergency protocols had been put in place and local roads had been closed.
Local landholders had been notified along with the relevant authorities.
In a statement, Newcrest said that safety was its highest priority as it worked to assess the impact of the wall break.
“The Cadia tailings dams have been regularly inspected, reviewed and monitored; and have been fully certified to industry standards by independent third parties.
“As a precaution Newcrest stopped depositing tailings into both dams on 9 March. Operations were subsequently progressively suspended pending further investigation.
“We are monitoring the impact carefully, and have observed no environmental damage. We believe there is no threat to personal safety.”
On Thursday, two earthquakes were recorded in the area, ten seconds apart and just over two kilometres from the mine. The earthquake had a magnitude of 2.7 and was reportedly felt in the area.
[Mighty small earthquake compared to those caused by frac’ing and oil patch wastewater injection in Canada and the USA. Read especially the informative comments by Annie57 responding to shills]
Just last year, the Cadia mine was evacuated after an earthquake with a magnitude of 4.3 was registered near the site. The site remained closed for several months leading to a 48 per cent drop in profits for mine’s owner Newcrest.
The Cadia Valley Mine is located 25 kilometres south of Orange in the state’s central west.
In a statement, the NSW Environment Protection Authority said it was aware of the collapse and was inspecting the site. They also said they understood that the tailing had been contained. [Emphasis added]
A few of the comments:
Dr Strangelove3 DAYS AGO
I thought I left an earlier comment about dams that collapse on a 2.7 magnitude tremor! What too contentious?
Joe Sucato2 DAYS AGO
yep they get the gold , we get the shaft .. What a great deal hey ?
nkelly3 DAYS AGO
And when the whole lot collapses and runs away into the surrounds the EPA will
“inspect the site”
The dams should be constructed to a quality that withstands earthquakes, but that would impact on profits and the shareholders mightn’t like that and the CEO’s bonuses would suffer….
tinkerbell2 DAYS AGO
I reside in a town not far from that mine and have seen the tailings dam. It is huge that picture does not really show just how enormous it really is. I have noticed and felt some of the minor quakes however did not feel the last one. Here is hoping there is not another quake to damage that wall further if the lower dam wall crumbles it will be really worry for farms below and people living in the valley nearby.
The truth 2 DAYS AGO
There are many methods of gold extraction, heap leaching being only one. Standard floatation methods are commonly used and preferred in Australia now due to Environmental Agreement for that process being far easier to gain, and the increased awareness of environmental issues in the companies social licence (agreement with surrounding landowners). The tailings from floatation process usually have an elevated level of gold in the tailings as the main environmental contaminant.
Chillster2 DAYS AGO
I think the main reason that folks are a bit sceptical of your faith in the honour of large mining companies, is that they have seen many examples in the past of companies just walking away at the end of the mine’s life, leaving the cleanup to be done at public cost.
There’s always an excuse of course – bankruptcy, sale to another owner, blah blah blah – but its a very common occurrence, hence cynicism.
My own modest first-hand experience of this was the Jabiru uranium mine, where the radioactive tailings dam often overflowed into the surrounding wetlands, come the wet season.