Mining & Dams

Mining next to waterways has an appalling record of water pollution around the world & in Australia.

Our catchment is under threat from potential open-cut mineral mining with explorations already underway. Exploration stages and processes vary from site to site with over 40 Exploration Licences (ELs) in our shire. The mine sites are in delicate water catchment areas beside the Clarence, Mann & Nymboida Rivers & on the Dorrigo Plateau, a drinking water source for the Clarence, Coffs, & Bellingen shires. The unique biodiversity of the area includes threatened species such as the koala, eastern freshwater cod and greater glider. This is Bundjalung & Gumbaynggirr country with the significant waterways flowing into Yaegl.

Recent heavy rains and catastrophic floods show how quickly water moves from upriver, through towns and into the ocean, highlighting how risky mine tailing dams would be in this area. Our rivers, waterways and ocean form the backbone of our environmental, social, cultural and economic health. Local seafood, dairy, sugar cane, livestock, crops,  tourism and the industries that service them need clean water! 

No promise of mining jobs can outweigh the potential decimation of millions of dollars and employment  local industry already provide..

The Negative Impacts of Mining

Mining consumes, diverts and can seriously pollute water sources. When mining minerals, water is used in huge quantities and is then discharged as chemical filled effluent along with tailings. Chemicals used in processing include cyanide (gold) & sulphuric acid (copper) to separate the target mineral from the ore. This toxic waste and tailings are stored in man-made dams forever, which can leach or overflow into waterways.  The risk is far greater in high rainfall and flood areas like the northern rivers region of NSW. 

After the companies leave, dams are unregulated. Acid mine drainage also threatens water security, which creates highly acidic sludge filled with toxic metal traces that find their way into waterways, changing the pH & increasing the concentration of hydrogen. Life cannot exist in these conditions and restoring waterways polluted by mining is virtually impossible.

  • Metal traces can also enter the food chain through contaminated seafood
  • Mountaintop removal and open cut techniques are to be used locally
  • Mining requires large-scale infrastructure and roads
  • Massive areas of habitat are cleared
  • Excavation fallout is airborne as acidic dust, a major respiratory health concern which also effects surrounding agricultural irrigation dams, troughs and crops.

We rely heavily on clean water here in the Clarence Valley and just one contamination incident could destroy existing industries and our community’s health – the risk is too high.

The Clarence Catchment Alliance

The Clarence Catchment Alliance (CCA) is based in the Clarence Valley, Northern Rivers of NSW, on Bundjalung, Gumbaynggirr, and Yaegl Country. The CCA was formed in 2018 and is grassroots, non-partisan, all-inclusive, non-profit, volunteer group facilitating our community’s call for a ban on mining in the Clarence Catchment and its surrounds. 

The Clarence Catchment Alliance operates as a sub-group under the Clarence Environment Centre.

What we are doing through the CEC & CCA…

Our priority is to highlight the real threat mining poses to our local water security, environment, society, culture and economy. Our community has united signing a petition with over 10,000 signatures calling for a ban on mining in the Clarence Catchment. We have met with many ministers including the NSW planning dept. Some Northern Rivers councils support the call for the moratorium & locals are writing to MPs – Community action is in place. The CCA & CEC keep a close eye on mining company exploration, site water samples are tested and breaches are reported to regulators. 

Are you concerned about mining practices in the Clarence Catchment? 

You can help by:

  • Writing to all the NSW MPs. 
  • Sign our second petition, when we launch it – stay tuned.
  • Support elected leaders, & vote for candidates that will protect our water & the environment.
  • Follow us on social media. Share your views & pictures, discuss, debate & stay up to date.
  • Get active “Put A Sign On Ya Fence” from CCA outlets. 
  • Use @nominesclarencevalley #vocallocalscv #nominesclarencevalley when posting to social media.
  • Buy $3 sticker from CCA outlets & put it on your car, board, boat, bike, bin, anywhere.
  • Make a CCA donation through 
  • Inform others & have important conversations
  • Attend our events – see the CCA website and Facebook page for event calendar.