Cadia gold mine fined $15,000 for dust pollution

Dust blown from Cadia Valley Operations’ mine near Orange in April has resulted in a $15,000 EPA fine for the company.

The NSW EPA issued the fine to the operator of Cadia Gold Mine for failing to maintain appropriate levels of dust mitigation on its Northern and Southern Tailings Storage Facilities. 

EPA Director Regulatory Operations Cate Woods said Cadia Valley Operations had applied a cover of hydromulch to control the dust, but the most recent EPA investigation found Cadia Valley Operations had failed to maintain an effective coverage of the dust suppressant at the two facilities.

“An investigation into resident complaints on 19 April found the dust had blown from the company’s Northern Tailings Storage Facility,” she said.

And it wasn’t the first time. Ms Woods said the failure to maintain the dust suppressant on the tailings storage facilities was a serious matter and had resulted in ongoing dust lifts from the Cadia mine site.

“The EPA has received numerous notifications by residents of dust lift events visible from their homes,” Ms Woods said.

Before 2018, wet tailings had been deposited at the North and South facilities, but this had ceased after a dam wall separating the two facilities suffered a catastrophic failure.

This has since led to the tailings in the facilities drying out, resulting in dust lift events that caused concern for residents living south and south-east of the site.

“Although the EPA has taken other action related to these events a need for deterrence is required,” Ms Woods said.

“Cadia Valley Operations must do better to manage their impacts on the surrounding community if they want to avoid an escalation in regulatory action by the EPA.”

The EPA takes instances of non-compliance seriously and assesses each allegation in line with the EPA’s Regulatory Policy and Regulatory Strategy.

The largest fine the EPA is able to issue under its legislation is $15,000.

Courts can impose larger penalties for more serious incidents that are taken directly to court.

Penalty notices are one of the tools the EPA uses to achieve the best environmental or human health outcomes.

Our regulatory approach includes a wide variety of options. Find out more about them here