The Cyanide Watch Campaign 2006 & 2007
Bearing Witness to Cyanide
Crimes and Cyanide Criminals


About Cyanide Watch

Cyanide Watch is a direct action campaign to bear witness to the cyanide crimes of the gold mining industry.

During 2007, undertook a road campaign to bear witness to the hazards created by the bulk transport of cyanide for the gold mining industry.

Apart from being a very visual presence on the roads and in the towns of NSW and Qld during those months, organised and supported Cyanide Watch actions at the Barrick Gold mine at Casino, 26 July, Lake Cowal, Chullora Cyanide blockade, 2 May, Casino Cyanide on 26 July 2007, Kyogle 22 March

Here is a UTube video of the Casino Cyanide Watch action:

During 2006, Cyanide Watch actions took place at Lake Cowal, West Wyalong, Forbes, Parkes, Dubbo, Katoomba, Casino, Gladstone, Kyogle, Lismore, Nimbin, Grafton, Coffs Harbor, Bellingen and Newcastle.

Who are/were Cyanide Watch? It started as a couple of grey haired nomads, Graeme Dunstan, his campaigning comrade, John Peace and a Maremma dog named Jennifer. Now it is a growing network of friends who want to draw the line on cyanide gold mining.

Graeme and John undertook to follow the trauma trails of the gold miners and bear road side witness to their toxic practices, generate media attention and organise local community resistance as they go.

Honouring the Earth and speaking up and speaking out for the clean water rights of future generations - fishes, yabbies, eels, snakes, birds, wallabies and humans too - they knew their mission was blessed and made auspicious by friends of the Earth, near and far, seen and unseen, born and yet to be born.

Seeing things as they truly are and walking the Dharma path of generosity, kindness, compassion, right conduct, right speech and voluntary simplicity, they moved from kindness to kindness.

A major cyanide accident is inevitable. Only a matter of time.

When it happens Cyanide Watch aimed to have created such an appalled awareness of the scale of modern cyanide use and the political corruption that permits, denies and conceals it, that popular outrage will be such as to spell an end to cyanide gold mining in this land forever.

Cyanide criminals at work - the cyanide leach processing plant of the Barrick Gold mine at Lake Cowal as seen from the air 9 March 2006. More pics at

Cyanide Crime, Corporate Crime

Sodium cyanide is lethal - just a 10 ml teaspoon of 2% solution will quickly snuff the quick of an adult human.

Be appalled to learn that each year in Australia 100,000 tonnes of sodium cyanide is manufactured, nearly all of it for use by the gold mining industry: 60% of it in Australia and 40% exported to the gold mines in the South Pacific and South East Asia.

This means that this year 60,000 tonnes is being transported by road to the far flung cyanide gold mines in Australia and another 40,000 tonnes is being shipped by sea through Australian coastal waters; all in the service of a small bunch of very rich shareholders on the other side of the globe, far far away from the toxic consequences of their greed.

In gold extraction sodium cyanide in 2% solution is used to dissolve gold from a slurry of crushed ore and it is a very effective, extracting up 97% of the available gold. This has meant that ore with as little as 6 parts of gold per ten million can be processed with profit.

Profitable but only if ignored are the environmental costs of burning up huge amounts of diesel to dig huge pits and crush huge amounts of rock and the cost permanently poison huge quantities of ground water.

Huge too is the capital investment of modern gold mines and they keep their toxicity invisible with a screen of lies and denials and by using their capital to build wire fences, employ armed security guards, pay professional liars and buy politicians.

Barrick Gold's Lake Cowal Gold Mine

Consider the gold mine that started up this March at Lake Cowal, near West Wyalong in central NSW. There Barrick Gold, the Toronto based multinational which claims to be the biggest gold producer in the world, will, over 8 years, excavate (and leave) an open pit 1 km long, 800 metres wide and 325 metres deep; crush 128 million tonnes of rock; and take away about 27 million ounces of gold (about 750 tons).

To dig this pit and crush this rock, they will consume about 15 million litres of (tax free) diesel. To extract the gold they will also consume each year over 13 years 6,090 tonnes sodium cyanide, 7,500 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, 56,700 tonnes of quick lime, 12,600 tonnes of sulphuric acid, 702 tonnes of hydrochloric acid, 2,100 tonnes of hydrogen peroxide, etc, etc.

Barrick also has NSW Labor Government granted water licences to sink four artesian bores from a previously embargoed aquifer and pump, up to 15 mega litres per day but not more than 3,650 mega litres a year over the next 13 years. This annual water consumption is more than the entire domestic use of Lismore district.

But Barrick will not be taking the water with them when they go. Permanently poisoned, it will be left behind in tailings dams two of them each 1.2 km square.

And Lake Cowal a vast ephemeral lake, the occasional breeding and feeding ground of many, many migratory birds. This is corporate crime at its most toxic.

For the Campaign to Protect Lake Cowal see and

See past Lake Cowal actions of @

The NSW Labor government is a shameless courtier of big business and has backed Barrick Gold all the way, over riding all objections of Native Title holders and environmental organisations. On 3 January 2006 the NSW Minister for Planning gave approval to the Transport of Hazardous Material Plan for the Lake Cowal gold mine.

But the NSW government was at first reluctant to make this plan public and although the cyanide had been on the road for weeks before, they released the information under questioning from Lee Rhiannon MLC of the NSW Greens on 6 April, the day the Lake Cowal mine officially opened.

To quote, the Hansard record:

On 8 March 2006 Ms Lee Rhiannon asked the Minister for Mineral Resources a question without notice regarding Lake Cowal Goldmine cyanide transportation. The Minister for Planning provided the following response:

I am advised by the Department of Planning that Cyanide for the Cowal Gold Project will be railed from Gladstone to Chullora in Sydney. It will then be trucked from Chullora to Camellia before it is railed to Dubbo. From Dubbo it will be trucked to the mine.

Along this route, the cyanide will be trucked through the Bankstown, Auburn, Parramatta, Dubbo, Parkes, Forbes and Bland local government areas, and along the border of the Weddin local government area.

I am advised by the Department of Planning that the transport of cyanide occurs on a regular basis in Australia, and is subject to strict Commonwealth and State statutory standards designed to ensure that such material is transported safely.

I am further advised that the conditions of consent for the mine project required the mine operator to prepare detailed management plans for the safe transportation of hazardous material. These plans have now been prepared and were recently endorsed by the Director General of the Department of Planning.

Telling the story, making myth

Like water dripping on rock and wearing away its resistance, is in no hurry: time is on its side. By contrast time is running out for the cyanide criminals of the gold mining industry. Maintaining lies is a dark, time and money consuming business; but the living truth is independent of money and its radiance neither waxes nor wanes.

Graeme Dunstan (left) and John Peace with the Cyanide Spills mural (painted by Graeme) newly mounted on John's van, Harmony, April 2005

The stories of the journey for intergenerational justice will be recorded as they unfold with text and photos on this website. See

If you want to hear more, email and you will be put on an emailing list and notified of new postings.

How can you help?

Speak up and speak out too. Tell your friends and family about the cyanide hazard on the roads and the toxic practices of the foreign owned gold mines.

Write to your local member of parliament and demand truth and responsibility from him/her.

Become a Cyanide Watchman or Watchwoman. In your own way and in your own place bear witness. Take photos, write letters to the local paper, pursue lies and liars relentlessly.

If you are on a cyanide route, invite and host a visit of to your community and introduce the crew to your friends.

If you have a penchant for organising, take up organising responsibility. Organise membership lists, membership drives, fund raising events and the like. Most importantly, and most effectively, occupy public place and get noticed bearing witness.

And of course donations of cash are very useful. $100 provides enough fuel to get John and Graeme 250 km down the road and earns the giver much merit.

Generosity is the key factor in building sustainable resistance. Cyanide Watchman or Watchwoman will never have corporate sponsorship or government grants; the campaign will succeed because of the kindness of people who care for the Earth and for future generations.

May all beings be well and happy.

Graeme Dunstan

And here is what cyanide rail freight looks like departing Gladstone where Orica makes about 80,000 tonnes a year of the stuff. Each shipping container holds 20 tonnes and, at one gram per lethal dose, enough to kill every human in Australia ten times over.

Here is the trunk rail line Brisbane-Sydney where it passes by Kyogle High School and the Kyogle Hospital adjacent. In fact students cross the line to get to the sports field, it's that close.


An index of illustrated reports of Cyanide Watch actions and other writings.

A chronological compilation of Cyanide Watch media releases.

Subscribe to Cyanide Watch emailings

Download STOP THE CYANIDE, a rap-reggae collaboration
between captain, Graeme Dunstan,
and the Nimbin based family band, Earth Reggae.

Past productions of

Home page of

If you want to get media releases, notice of upcoming actions and reports of those actions, send us @n email and we'll put you on our emailing list. can be contacted in Australia on 0407 951 688
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For peace! For justice! For the Earth!

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