Gold Belt Pty Ltd has submitted an Exploration Licence Application (ELA) to explore for gold and silver near Murwillumbah in the Tweed. Picture: NSW Government
Gold Belt Pty Ltd has submitted an Exploration Licence Application (ELA) to explore for gold and silver near Murwillumbah in the Tweed. Picture: NSW Government

Plans for a second North Coast gold rush fail to pan out

CONCERNS about an exploration application leading to a second gold rush in the Tweed have been nipped in the bud after the majority of local and state politicians staunchly opposed plans.

Mining company Gold Belt Pty Ltd has applied for a licence to use new technology to search for Group 1 minerals over a 118sq km site 2km east of Murwillumbah including some of the historic gold sites more than a century old.

The company previously told Newscorp exploration would include taking rock and soil samples, conducting surveys and measuring magnetic fields and electrical conductivity. Limited digging is involved.

<<READ MORE: GOLD RUSH: 'Every man and his dog is looking'>>

They confirmed widespread community consultation would occur if the company was granted the licence.

 

Gold Belt Pty Ltd has submitted Exploration Licence Application (ELA) 6115 to explore for gold and silver near Murwillumbah in the Tweed. Picture: NSW Government
Gold Belt Pty Ltd has submitted Exploration Licence Application (ELA) 6115 to explore for gold and silver near Murwillumbah in the Tweed. Picture: NSW Government

 

Tweed Shire councillors have responded to community uproar about the State Government licence application by holding an extraordinary meeting on Thursday afternoon.

Mayor Chris Cherry will now write to state member Geoff Provest and Janelle Saffin, the State Government and Gold Belt to "object in the strongest terms to the Exploration (Minerals) Licence Application ELA 6115 in the Tweed Shire" after the motion passed 5-2.

Cr Warren Polglase and Cr Pryce Allsop voted against.

Cr Katie Milne said the community felt a significant amount of concern about mining in the region, referencing the Gas field Free signs visible upon entering the shire and this year's landmark council decision to effectively halt the expansion of water extraction in the Tweed.

She said the area's "internationally significant environment" was "more precious than any mining for gold would be".

 

An advertisement for the Exploration Licence Application (ELA) 6115 submitted by Gold Belt Pty Ltd.
An advertisement for the Exploration Licence Application (ELA) 6115 submitted by Gold Belt Pty Ltd.

 

Cr Milne referenced the application's area extending through drinking water catchments and known and potential indigenous heritage sites.

Cr Owen spoke in support of the motion along with Mayor Cherry.

"There are not a lot of way to mine for gold that are clean ways of doing it, frankly, traditional methods have large potential for strong and negative environmental impacts," Cr Cherry said.

Tweed MP Geoff Provest said he would not support mining in the Tweed but noted the application was only for exploration not mining.

"I've always been anti-mining in the Tweed, I think one of the special things in the Tweed is the beautiful natural environment," he said.

 

Tweed Shire councillors at today's virtual extraordinary meeting about advocating against a state government gold mining exploration application.
Tweed Shire councillors at today's virtual extraordinary meeting about advocating against a state government gold mining exploration application.

 

"Currently there is no proposition for mining here on the table … and if there ever is there is a stringent planning processes and any one of which can take up to eight to 10 years. Just look at the Santos gas project at Narrabri - the planning approvals took at least ten years.

Lismore MP Janelle Saffin said she could not believe any public official, including the NSW Government, could see mining as suitable for the region, calling digging for silver and gold "totally out of step with our valued industries".

Ms Saffin said despite the gold price currently being so high, she was genuinely surprised that someone would want to revisit old mining sites from the past across such a large area.