‘We shouldn’t wait until companies have spent millions’
A PEAK environmental body has sounded the alarm following a proliferation of mining exploration licence application on the North Coast.
North Coast Environment Council president Jim Morrison said local governments needed to be "proactive and precautionary" in identifying high conservation and water supply catchments as off limits to mining.
He said mining on the Dorrigo plateau and in the Clarence Catchment could have serious impacts on the regional water supply.
"Hundreds of square kilometres of land in these catchments now has mining leases over it," he said.
"Councils need to get active and determine which areas are critical to maintaining a clear and constant water supply to north coast communities."
The warning comes amid a flurry of activity in the mining sector in recent months, with a number of licences being applied for across the Coffs/Clarence and Corazon Mining progressing its Mount Gilmore project.
The project is located 35 km north west of Grafton and Corazon announced they had been successful in obtaining a NSW State Government grant through the Cooperative Drilling Program.
The program provides rebate of fifty per cent of drilling costs up to $200,000 once work has been completed.
In August a Native Title Agreement was signed with the traditional owners following a site visit and meetings.
A Corazon spokesperson said the company was seeking battery metals at the site, in particular, cobalt, that "play a key role in the emerging new technology battery sector, such as electric vehicles."
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"Initial exploration by Corazon has the shown the project to be potentially highly prospective, but it is too early to make any judgement on the development potential (into a mine) of the Project," they said.
"The Company has been very encouraged by its initial exploration work at the project, and the potential upside for the project."
However, this type of exploration was a concern for Mr Morrison who said people "can't rely on the State Government to protect our natural environment."
"We shouldn't be waiting until companies have spent millions of dollars on exploration and
have an expectation that their mines will go ahead, before saying 'not here'," he said.
"There are too many examples from across NSW where they have allowed mining projects to go ahead in critical water catchments.
"Local government and community will need to work together to defend the environment we all depend on, or it will be degraded and destroyed."