I joined the struggle to protect the Deua River from this development a year ago. Since then I’ve discovered the resilience of a small community of valley residents who have carried the burden of this fight for over five years now. People of my parent’s generation, who’ve spent countless late-night hours scrutinising the proponent’s endless, narcosis-inducing publications. Writing submissions, giving speeches, arming themselves with knowledge with which to defend their livelihoods. They contend not only with one mining company after the next, but with state planning authorities who favour boom-and-bust development at any cost to the environment or risk to human health. In truth, these people do the job of the state in defending our water supply and national park. But they can’t keep this up forever, and the odds are stacked against them.
It’s not just the Dargues Gold Mine under Modification 3 that hangs over their headwaters. It’s the incremental, state-backed ‘creep’ of the scale of that project and the likelihood of future mining licences in the valley should Dargues finally go ahead. The valley folk from Majors Creek to Araluen to the Deua have fought with all of their resolve, for the good of the entire Eurobodalla and Palerang shire. I know this, because I’ve read their work, and today I saw them present before the Planning Assessment Commission in opposition to Modification 3. I saw 20 people speak for 30,000. They spoke of your health, as one of the tens of thousands who drink the same water as they do. They spoke of future generations they’ll never meet. But they also spoke of being worn down to the point of despair, of questioning the point of carrying their convictions and research to deaf ears. The meeting had something of the air of a last stand.
It’s our turn to stand. To educate ourselves about what’s being done in our name, starting with the Dargues Gold Mine.
Mod 3 is currently being assessed by the NSW Planning Assessment Commission. Here’s the web page for the PAC assessment. They have not called for any further submissions (but I ain’t gonna stop you). The Proponent is required to accept submissions from the public until August 17. Your mission: to offer your criticism of the proponent’s 300-page ‘Preliminary Documentation,’ which is hidden at the bottom of this web page. Yes, it’s the densest BS you’ve ever seen and the deadline is completely unreasonable. Welcome to the valley.