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Environmental restoration of an abandoned Gold Mine in Blayney

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

In 1997 Australian Native Landscapes (ANL) commenced looking for a composting production site and agricultural operations facility in the central west of NSW. ANL spent 2 years searching around the Millthorpe-Blayney area and found the old Browns Creek Gold Mine in 1999 which was left abandoned, flooded and an environmental hazard by mining companies. ANL ingeniously undertook environmental restoration at the Gold Mine, and were then able to make use of the water, the limestone and mullock heaps to produce compost, decorative gravels and road base on a large scale. The Blayney facility is now home to the ANL Land Application Division.

Environmental Restoration and Stabilisation

The entire Browns Creek Gold Mine in and surrounding property of 500 acres, which was under receivership, was purchased in 2001 by Australian Native Landscapes. ANL completed an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and between 2001 and 2003 ANL undertook the massive task of environmental restoration at the old gold mine.


 
The environmental stabilisation work involved capping the tailings dams, which were leaking cyanide, through the application of a layer of compost, seeding with lawn and covering with a final capping of rock. The capped tailings dams then became a platform for ANL’s compost production. In 2005 ANL gained approval for the extraction and recycling of approx 5 million m3 of rock which was left over from previous mining operations, and began the composting of organic waste.

ANL Land Application Division

ANL now run their Land Application Division from the Blayney site, a 200,000 tonne per annum licensed compost facility. The ANL Land Application Division at Blayney operates 3 purpose-built trailing spreaders with capacities from 3 to 25 tonnes which spread compost and mulch on all terrains.



The ANL Land Application Division provides services for compost products and their application requirements for vineyards and orchards to sporting fields, mine site rehabilitation and broadacre grazing and cropping operations including tramlines. Using ANL’s Land Application spreaders combined with ANL’s GreenBlower® service the Blayney facility showcases the company’s economic and organic alternatives for farm operators, government bodies and domestic customers alike.

History of Browns Creek 

Brown’s Creek is a significant creek in the Millthorpe-Blayney area. The mine is where the Blayney-Cadia Road crosses the Spring Terrace-Carcoar road. Gold was discovered in the area by Norwegian Norvis Gotterty in 1867. Other miners soon followed and by 1873 there were three stores, two pubs and a butcher’s shop. By 1878 there were 200 miners plus a local farming population. The Brown’s Creek Gold Mining Company continued mining until 1888 when problems with water forced the mine’s closure.



In 1895 a French company, Compagnie des Mines d’Or, spent £50,000 importing a marine engine from Glasgow and installing a large stamping battery. The company sank a shaft into the old workings which subsequently collapsed and forced the mine to close in 1901. In 1904 open-cut mining began, using cyanide to treat the old tailings. Mining continued until the late 1930s. Michael Hickey obtained the leases in 1979 and opened a new shaft and drives. In 1986 he sold the mine to BHP Minerals, which in 1993 sold it to Hargraves resources. A South African company took it over in 1999 but six weeks later, an aquifer was hit, the mine was flooded and abandoned. It was then purchased in 2001 by Australian Native Landscapes, and extensive environmental restoration and conversion of the site into a composting and land application facility.