Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Work underway to address mine seepage issue

Media release: 20 April 2016

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is working with Centennial Newstan Pty Ltd and the Division of Resources and Energy (DRE) to address water quality impacts arising from historic mining activities at Awaba.

Centennial Newstan advised the EPA that the underground workings of its Awaba underground operations have been filling with water since mining ceased in 2012. This natural process is occurring as a result of rainfall infiltration through cracks, sink holes and other recharge processes but has resulted in discharges from the old workings.

EPA Hunter Manager, Adam Gilligan, said that such discharges can contain high levels of pollutants. These can have an impact on the environment. As a result, the EPA collected water quality samples from the area.

“Analysis was undertaken which confirmed that high concentrations of dissolved metals, salinity and acidity were present in the water. The EPA also observed iron precipitate downstream of the seepage,” Mr Gilligan said.

“The EPA has worked with Centennial and DRE to identify a series of actions to address the issue. These have now been formalised into a legally enforceable clean-up notice. The EPA is pleased with the pro-active approach taken by Centennial.”

The clean-up notice requires Centennial to provide a report to the EPA by July this year that includes all of the monitoring and analysis that has been undertaken by Centennial to-date. Centennial must also provide a detailed review of best practice techniques available to address the seepage.

Subsequently, a report detailing strategies to mitigate or control the seepage must be prepared by the company and submitted to the EPA by September 2016.

“The EPA will continue to engage with Centennial and DRE to ensure the environmental impacts arising from the seepage are addressed,” Mr Gilligan said.

Clean-up notices are just one of a number of tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance. Others include formal warnings, additional notices and directions, mandatory audits, enforceable undertakings, legally binding pollution reduction programs and prosecutions.

For more information about the EPA’s regulatory tools, see the EPA Compliance Policy: http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/legislation/prosguid.htm

Contact: EPA Public Affairs

Page last updated: 20 April 2016