Mining company CopperChem wants to re-open the copper zinc mine in the headwaters of the Tambo River in East Gippsland. As part of this proposal they intend to greatly expand the existing tailings dam. The company is currently seeking permission from the state government for the project to proceed. We have until April 4 to object.

The original Benambra copper and zinc mine was operated by Denehurst Pty Ltd from 1992 until 1996. In 1998 the company went into receivership and abandoned the site. Denehurst left behind an unstable tailings dam containing 700,000 tonnes of toxic tailings leaking acid and heavy metals into Straight Creek which runs into the Tambo River.

In 2006 the state government rehabilitated the mine site and tailings dam at a cost of $7 million to the taxpayer.

The enlarged dam will be built on top of the unstable foundation of the old tailings dam and before work begins another three metres of contaminated water will have to be released into the creek. This project poses an unacceptable long term risk to the Tambo River and the Gippsland Lakes system.

You can find more information about sending a submission in to oppose the mine here.