Team examines Big Hill effects

STAWELL Gold Mines is assembling a team of experts and contractors to study the environmental and social effects of mining Stawell landmark Big Hill.

The company's environment and community superintendent David Coe said he was waiting for the State Government to respond to an environmental effects statement referral submitted to the Planning Minister Matthew Guy on January 25.

He said it would determine whether the company needed a planning permit or to complete an environmental effects statement on the Big Hill Development Project, predicted to produce 3.2 million tonnes of ore.

"We are waiting for the decision on the environmental effects statement referral to find out the planning permit pathway and at this time we are looking at all our technical studies that we will have to do," Mr Coe said.

"We are getting all our experts and contractors in line to do noise, dust, blasting effects, social impact, flora and fauna, health and cultural heritage studies."

Mr Coe said he expected the government to make a decision within a month.

He said residents nearest the potential mine site had 'mixed views' about the four or five-year project.

"During the past couple of weeks we have tried to make contact with people in about 120 homes immediately around the site," he said.

"We are looking to extend the life of the mine here and provide employment opportunities for the people of Stawell, as well as it being an economically-viable project for the company."

Mr Coe encouraged people to attend community information sessions at Stawell RSL on February 16 between 11am and 3pm and on February 20 between 5pm and 8pm.

Stawell and District Residents Association president Peter Baker said about 60 concerned residents attended the gold mining company's Environmental Review Committee meeting on Tuesday night.

He said residents close to the Big Hill site faced a 'big decision' on whether to support the project.

"Normally there are about 15 people at the committee meetings but at this meeting there were probably closer to 60 people who were mainly residents of Main Street and prominently Fisher Street, which butts up onto the mine," he said.

"There are two types of people or two levels of concern those who are directly affected by being in the buffer zone and the general community who are concerned about the amenity, environmental impacts and health concerns.

"While everyone can have an opinion, by law the mine has to seek permission from the residents directly affected so they have a huge responsibility.

"People shouldn't get sucked into the knee-jerk reaction; they should do their research and make an informed decision."

The Stawell Gold Mine.

The Stawell Gold Mine.