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The Goldamere Agreement — A Co-operative Mutually Beneficial Environmental Management Framework for the Remediation of Acid Rock Drainage

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  • The Savage River open cut magnetite mine is located in rugged terrain in densely rain forested northwest Tasmania. The mine and concentrating plant are both in the Savage River valley. Pickand Mather Incorporated (PMI) operated Savage River as an open cut magnetite mine between 1966 and 1996. Acid rock drainage (ARD) was first noted in the last ten years of the operation, leading to elevated concentrations of heavy metals downstream of the mine. When operations ceased in 1996, PMI returned the mine to the Tasmanian Government along with a remediation fund of $11.4 million. At that time, the assessed cost of remediation was in excess of $120 million. As a result of the ongoing ARD contamination and to facilitate both a new operation and effective remediation, Goldamere Pty Ltd negotiated an agreement with the Tasmanian Government in 1996, which resulted in the Goldamere Act and the Goldamere Agreement. The agreement has allowed Australian Bulk Minerals (ABM) to remediate the Savage River mine in conjunction with the Tasmanian Government while re-invigorating a previously closed mine by providing ABM with an indemnity against past pollution. ABM can configure its mine and waste planning activities to maximise remediation benefits without fear of future litigation for past mistakes. The effect to date has been the development of a long-term strategy to remediate the Savage River and short-term remediation works such as water management, which provide benefits to the ecosystem. After five years, the Savage River is no longer significantly impacted by ARD for 30 kilometres downstream and trout are now reported within the reaches of the mining lease. The arrangements between ABM and the Tasmanian Government are an example of a genuine WIN WIN situation where co-operative environmental management of the site results in significant improvements and where the ‘regulator’ and the ‘miner’ are working together to achieve mutually beneficial goals. The end result is a significant benefit to Tasmania.

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