Media Release 28 February 2008
Orica accused of Cyanide and CO2 Crimes

 

Citizens concerned about the toxic practices of Orica Limited, the giant Australian owned chemical maker, will be accusing its management and shareholders of cyanide and CO2 crimes at a public Speak Out

12.30 - 1.30 pm Friday 29 February 2008
outside the Orica headquarters
cnr Nicholson and Albert Streets Melbourne

"The Mudd Report shows that Australian gold mines are currently producing about 250 tonnes of gold a year by working low grade ores of the order of 2 parts of gold in a million parts of crushed rock ," said Graeme Dunstan of Cyanide Watch.

"But the environmental cost is huge and horrific," he said.

"To win gold from low grade ores means digging huge pits, crushing millions of tonnes of rock, burning up millions of litres of diesel and permanently poisoning millions of litres of water."

"Typically the extraction of just 1 kilogram of gold poisons 250,000 litres of water, releases 25 tonnes of carbon dioxide and produces 3,100 tonnes of solid waste," he said.

"It is the cyanide leach extraction process which makes these low grade ores viable and Orica is the major supplier of the sodium cyanide for the gold mines of Australia and the South Pacific," said Graeme Dunstan of Cyanide Watch.

"We accuse Orica of cyanide and CO2 crimes against the Earth and the future generations who will live on it," said Mr Dunstan.

An estimated 100,000 tonnes per year of cyanide is manufactured at Orica's Yarwun plant near Gladstone and shipped secretly by rail and road through towns and river catchments of the east coast and elsewhere and by ship through the Barrier Reef to the far flung gold mines.

"Cyanide is deadly and it's transport inherently hazardous. Spills are common," he said.

It was Orica cyanide that spilled near Tennant Creek, NT, in February 2007 and closed the Stuart Highway for 5 days. it was Orica cyanide that spilled at the major derailment at Condobolin in 1992, a spill which had the town on red alert for evacuation for 10 days.

"But whether or not the cyanide falls off the trucks and trains in transport, it is bound to poison water and air on a huge scale when it is used to extract gold," said Dunstan.

"For example at the Barrick Gold mine at Lake Cowal in central NSW, Orica cyanide permanently poisons 17 million litres of water a day, water which is drawn from artesian reserves and the Lachlan River a Murray Darling basin river.

"And this in a time of drought!"

"So much poisoned for the profit of so few," he said.

"Clean air and clean water are more precious than gold."

Cyanide Watch is a campaign to raise awareness of hazard created by the transport of bulk cyanide and and the staggering environmental costs of its use in gold ming.

For Information
Graeme Dunstan 0407 951 688
Dr Gavin Mudd, Monash University 0419 117 494

Banner rig beside the gate of Orica Australia Ltd's cyanide and ammonium nitrate plant at Yarwun, near Gladstone, Queensland, 26 June 2007.

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