Regis Resources, the developers of the McPhillamy gold mine south-east of Orange, are coming under pressure to hold a public forum to allow a full and frank discussion of the proposed development.
Geologist and secretary of the Belubula Headwaters Protection Group Evan Leitch said he believed a town hall-style meeting would benefit all sides.
“This is not just for opponents of the mine to have their say, but also an opportunity for those that support the mine to have their say as well,” Mr Leitch said.
The committee will allow any questions that the community would like to put to it, and the answers then disseminate from there.Regis Resources general manager NSW Rod Smith
Regis Resources general manager NSW Rod Smith said the company had already held two information days and will be holding another two sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Blayney Community Centre between 12pm and 7pm.
“People can come along and ask as many questions, and stay for as long as they like if they’re worried about missing on something,” he said.
Mr Leitch said Regis was listening to criticism, but doing so in a very peculiar manner.
“They have a habit of turning up on individual resident’s doorsteps and talking to just the people that live there,” he said.
“There is such an imbalance of power that people are reluctant to really speak out.
“I think they’re not trying to stop criticism, just trying to counter it, and saying that the criticism is not valid or relevant or that in the final Environmental Impact Statement it will be explained and we shouldn’t worry about them.”
As part of their Environmental Assessment Requirements (EARs), Regis must now form a Community Consultative Committee, and Mr Smith said that would provide another avenue for community members to give their thoughts and views.
“The committee will allow any questions that the community would like to put to it, and the answers then disseminate from there,” he said.
Wiradjuri elder Nyree Reynolds also backed the idea of a forum to discuss the future of Aboriginal sites on the land.
“There are a lot of sites there and they’ll be gone and Regis said they’ll move them. How can you move them?” she asked.
Mr Smith said that all heritage sites would be assessed in the EIS.
“If there are areas that are going to be impacted they won’t be missed, and they will be dealt with in whatever appropriate way as agreed to by the regulators and the traditional owner groups,” he said.
In October last year Regis ruled out taking water from Orange to process gold from the planned mine, and are planning to instead build a 70-kilometre pipeline from Lithgow to the site.