NORTH COAST ENVIRONMENT COUNCIL
At its recent General Meeting, the North Coast Environment Council (NCEC) were honoured to present their prestigious ‘TOGA’ (Triumph Over Greed Award) to John Edwards and the Clarence Environment Centre (CEC) for their work in exposing a number of serious breaches of environmental legislation associated with exploration licenses for copper mining at Cangai near Jackadgery in the Clarence catchment.
As a result of the work of CEC, the NSW Resources Regulator has suspended all operations on two exploration licences held by mining companies Total Mineral Pty Ltd and Total Iron Pty Ltd. Exploration Licences 8625 and 8635 were being operated by Castillo Copper Limited, about 45km northwest of Grafton.
The regulator confirmed CEC’s concerns of multiple serious breaches, including a lack of sediment and erosion controls, poor management of drill cuttings/waste materials, clearing and excavation works undertaken outside of approved limits, the drilling of five bore holes without approval and a failure to progressively rehabilitate in approved time frames.
The CEC also contacted the Australian Securities Investment Commission (ASIC) which resulted in a withdrawal of the 61.5 million share distribution of Castillo Copper Limited as a result of a direction from ASIC.
John Edwards warned that, “Despite these obvious set-backs, subsequent announcements at the ASX website show that Castillo Copper appears determined to push ahead with the Cangai project regardless. Castillo Copper's reckless record to date, and their willingness to ignore all regulatory requirements until forced to by the regulator, is a major concern. Given those facts, and the dangerously risky nature of copper mining generally, along with the very close proximity of the Cangai site to the Clarence River's largest tributary, the Clarence Valley community holds grave concerns over this issue”.
In presenting the TOGA, NCEC President Jim Morrison especially acknowledged the exceptional efforts of John Edwards over the past decade in leading the CEC campaigns against a range of issues which threatened the environmental values of the Clarence Valley.
Mr Morrison indicated that, “the TOGA is not an annual award, rather the North Coast Environment Council award the TOGA or ‘Triumph Over Greed Award’, to North Coast environment groups that through their efforts are able to achieve a win.
“It is possible to Triumph Over Greed -sometimes”, he said.
Past winners of the TOGA include:
1997 - Scotts Head protection group for a successful legal challenge against a development.
1999 - North East Forest Alliance for their successful efforts to expand the forest reserve system
2001 - Friends of South West Rocks for a successful legal challenge against a development.
2002 - NEFA Hunter for a successful campaign to get Jilliby National Park on the Central Coast
2003 - Nambucca Valley Conservation Association for their successes against gravel extraction via the
Commission of Inquiry.
2010 - Carmel Flint et al for work getting River Redgum National Parks
2014 - Gasfield Free Northern Rivers for their campaign against coal seam gas at Bentley.
2016 - Environmental Defenders Office, Northern Rivers, for 10 years effort and some wins.