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Thomson Dam (Melbourne's drinking water)

Already Logged - Soon to be mined?

May 29 2011: Dam Its Less Than Half Full After All

September 10 2009: Canberra Sticks Its Nose In Over Threatened Fish

September 9 2009: Water Plan a Threat to River

New Exploration Licences granted by Peter Batchelor in March 2007 to mine Melbourne's drinking water supply. Will this mean cyanide in our drinking water?

see Age article Tuesday August 28, 2007

Google Earth image showing approximate locations of mining exploration

Companies with exploration licences for gold in the Thomson include; 1. Goldstar Resources, 2. Morning Star Gold, 3. Reedy Lagoon Corporation (Jericho Project)

& 4. Beadell Resources Ltd (Yarra River Catchment - Melbourne's drinking water supply near Yarra Glen). Beadell Resources are based in West Perth (directors Peter Bowler, Robert Watkins & Michael Donaldson).

Looks what's changed since 1974;

"Section 7 and 347 of the Mines Act 1958 provide that the Governor-in-Council may except an area from occupation for mining purposes under any miners right. In 1971 a number of water supply catchment areas between Bacchus Marsh and Gisborne were so excepted and the Authority will consider making a recommendation to Governor-in-Council that the Thomson River catchment also be excepted". Soil Conservation Authority Land Use Determination for the Thomson River Stages 1, 1(a) & 2 Water Supply Catchment, July 1974.

Biggest threat to the Thomson comes from Reedy Lagoon Corporation;

According to Reedy Lagoon Corporation whose exploration licence extends for 20 square kilometres in the Thomson catchment; "Exploration Licence 3208 incorporates land that is Reserved Forest set aside under Section 50 of the Forest Act 1958 as part of the Thomson River Forest Reserve (Gaz 1984 p235). The Licence Area is within the Thomson Catchment and is subject to a LUD pursuant to section 23 of the Soil, Conservation & Land Utilization Act 1958) . . . To protect the integrity of the water supply within the Thomson storage, earthworks are required to be kept to a minimum and any effluent and waste disposal will be in accordance with guidelines approved by the DNRE in consultation with Melbourne Water"

Reedy Lagoon Corporation also have an exploratory licence over a large portion of the Chiltern - Mt. Pilot National Park. "exploration and mining in park may continue only with the consent of the minister for Sustainability and Environment under Section 40 of the National Parks Act 1975".

Shareholders of Reedy Lagoon Corporation according to 2006 Annual General Report

Pyrope Holdings Pty Ltd 40.93% Woodall, Roy 1.26%
Australian Amalgamated Holdings Pty Ltd 13.18% Agricultural Contracting Pty Ltd 1.09%
Envirozel Ltd 5.88% Warrick Huddleston Mooney 1.01%
Janavid Ltd 4.20% Nicholas FM Brunner 0.84%
Clinical Cell Culture Ltd 3.27% Richard Court 0.84%
Cairnglen Investments Pty Ltd 2.80% Harris Holdings Pty Ltd 0.84%
Ian Halliday & R. C. Reeves 2.10% Colin Kerr Grant 0.80%
Providence Gold & Minerals Pty Ltd 2.10% Aluminium Cutters & Suppliers Pty Ltd 0.73%
Pyrope Holdings Pty Ltd (The Chromite Staff Superannuation Fund) 1.89% Tsimos Finance Pty Ltd Superfund 0.73%
Ranview Pty Ltd 1.69% Peter John Woodford 0.71%

Pyrope Holdings were originally named Dexadis Pty Ltd. They have one director, Geof Huddleston Fethers based in Hawthorn. They have a shareholding of 10012 shares. 10006 of which ore owned by Chromite Pty Ltd, 6 are owned by Geof Huddleston Fethers. Chromite Pty Ltd is based in Surrey Hills and Richmond. Sole director is Geof Huddleston Fethers with all shares owned by Geof Huddleston Fethers.

Gold Mining & Cyanide

Cyanide Kills!

Why Use Cyanide?

Cyanide is used in most gold mining operations in Australia because it attaches to minute particles of gold to form water soluble gold cyanide compounds from which gold is later recovered. Cyanide may also contain many breakdown compounds while generally less toxic than the original cyanide, are known to be toxic to aquatic organisms, and may persist in the environment. Cyanide is often contained in tailings dams which if constructed in the Thomson and Yarra catchments may be a potential risk to Melbourne's water supply. Cyanide can react readily with most other chemical elements, producing a wide variety of toxic, cyanide-related compounds. And because cyanide is carbon based - an organic compound - it reacts readily with other carbon-based matter, including living organisms.

Some examples of other gold mines in Victoria, Ballarat, Bendigo and Stawell (below). Imagine something like this in Melbourne's Water supply?



Thomson Dam Mercury 'hotspot?'

Thomson Dam catchment showing in (yellow) the sites of past alluvial gold workings and (red) sites of old mining batteries where mercury was used - including one battery which would be submerged when the dam is full! Most of the alluvial workings were located in Red Jacket Creek, the Jordon River and Thomson River (where the existing dam is located). Note clearfells on western side of dam.


p71 "The Thomson and Aberfeldy Valleys were intensively mined for gold during the latter half of the 19th and early 20th centuries. At least five auriferous reefs were located in the Thomson Valley just to the south of Aberfeldy township. Another thirty were located in the Aberfeldy Valley (including Donnelly and Fulton Creeks). As well as these mines there is still evidence of extensive alluvial mining along the Jordan River, the Aberfeldy River and its tributaries and the Thomson River south of its confluence with the Jordan. This undoubtedly caused large scale devestation of the vegetation in these areas. This has since regenerated, but it is unlikely that these areas have truly reverted to their original state. The effect of this era on the quality of the river may still persist, but if so, insufficient data exists to quantify this. In view of the quality today these effects must be small at this time.

The existence of old mines and particularly batteries suggest that large quantities of mercury were imported into the area during this period, and large quantities may still be present. Mercury is commonly used to seperate gold from crushed ore. In the past, before the toxicity of mercury was fully appreciated, this process was extremely wasteful. A significant proportion of the mercury used was discarded with the processed ore. Consequently, even after many years, metallic mercury can be found in mullock heaps associated with old mining batteries.

The Board has long been aware of this problem. It has also been raised by members of the public following the public displays of the details of the proposed Thomson development. Seven known mining batteries have been located in the study area. Two of these are in the Thomson Valley and the remainder in the Aberfeldy Valley. Presumably some or all of those utilized mercury for extracting gold from crushed ore...

The environmental chemistry of mercury has been intensively studied in recent years but not fully understood. It is known that certain mercury compounds are considered more toxic than others, particularly organomercury compounds which may be synthesised biologically from metallic mercury. The inorganic salts exhibit this characteristic. Furthermore these organomercury compounds by virtue of their chemical properties accumulate in the tissues of aquatic species such as mussels and fish and may even reach levels considered dangerous for human consumption."

Mercury Analysis of Samples Obtained From The Thomson Valley

Sample Site Concentration of Mercury mg/1000 g (dry wt. basis) Comments
Hg1 0.006 River Sediment
Hg2 0.027 River Sediment
Hg3 0.020 Sediment from mouth of Simpson Gully Creek
Hg4 <0.003 Sand deposit above waterline
Hg5 40 Crushed Rock Deposit
Hg6 90 Crushed Rock deposit at battery
Hg7 0.128 River at bank below battery
Hg8 0.042 River Sediment
Hg9 0.012 River Sediment
Hg10 0.012 River Sediment
Hg11 0.032 River Sediment
Hg12 <0.003 River Sediment
Hg13 <0.003 River Sediment
Hg14 0.006 River Sediment

p72 "A survey of the Thomson Valley recently completed by the Board has shown that while quite significant concentrations of mercury can be found in the soil in the immediate vicinity of old batteries, the areas where mercury can be detected are small, and very little appears to be finding its way into the river. Sediment and silt samples were taken from the river bed upstream and downstream of a battery east of the river below Cast Iron Point. Additional soil samples were obtained from the vicinity of the battery on the river. No samples were obtained from the other battery as this was inaccessible at the time.

While the presence of mercury in any form appears undesirable in a water catchment area it is inevitable that mercury should be present owing to its natural distribution in rocks and soil. The mercury content of soils averages about 0.1 mg/1000 grams and varies within relatively narrow limits. Sedimentary rocks resulting from weathering and deposited by physical, chemical and biological processes also generally average less than 0.01mg/1000 grams and seldom exceed 0.02mg/1000grams.

The mining of gold with its associated use of mercury in Victorian water catchment areas is not uncommon. For example, gold mining, has occurred in the catchments of the Hume, Eildon, Eppalock, Cairn Curran, Moondarra, Tarago, Rosslynne and Lal Lal Reservoirs. Of these, Moondarra, Tarago and Rosslynne supply water for human consumption while other reservoirs supply water for agricultural purposes which would include stock watering. In the case of Eildon, in addition to mercury used in gold mining operations, mercury as the mineral cinnabar, was mined in the catchment without causing problem levels to occur in the water.

At present no large scale gold mining operation is carried out in the area. Consequently the importation and use of mercury within the catchment has ceased. However, as the area is considered to be still rich in gold the possibility remains that mercury could be again used, especially if the world price of gold continues to rise. Any consequent discharge of mercury to the environment would need to be tightly controlled under the Environment Protection Act, 1970, and the Mines Act." Source: Thomson River Water Supply Development - Report on Environmental Study into Thomson Dam and Associated Works. Vol 1 MMBW July 1975.

Southern end of Thomson Dam (August 2007) 23% full.

Thomson Dam (August 2007) near the site of an old gold mine battery which when the dam is full is likely to be underwater.

Thomson Dam northern end - looking into the Jordan River.

Thomson Yarra Tunnel pipeline near Swingler Intake. Water from Melbourne is piped from the northern part of the dam.

Swingler Intake

Swingler Intake

Dam at Swingler Intake

August 2007: Logging off Marshall Spur Road. Most logs end up here. Young trees will take up much of the water that should be flowing into the depeleted reservoir. Bell Clear Creek sub-catchment on left and Whitelaw Creek sub-catchment on right.

August 2007: More thirsty clearfells in Bell Clear Creek.

Dead Myrtle Beech (cool temperate rainforest species) near Bell Clear Creek in a Site of Rainforest Significance.

Logging in close proximity to rainforest species - Bell Clear Creek Catchment