EPA requires immediate action by Newcrest to comply

Newcrest Mining Ltd’s Cadia mine has been told it must comply immediately with the Protection of the Environment (Clean Air) Regulation 2022 (the Clean Air Regulation), the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997, and its Environment Protection Licence (EPL) or face further regulatory action by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA).

Test results provided in response to the EPA’s previous Prevention Notice, and issued to Newcrest subsidiary, Cadia Holdings Pty Ltd, show the mine’s main vent is releasing an unacceptable level of dust.

EPA Chief Executive Officer, Tony Chappel said Newcrest’s Cadia mine continues to fall well short of its legal obligations to meet clean air standards.

“We require the mine to take all necessary steps to ensure dust emissions are significantly reduced and this may include a reduction in production,” Mr Chappel said.

“If Newcrest cannot show its subsidiary is taking immediate action to comply, the EPA will take appropriate action which could include suspension of the licence, seeking court orders or, issuing further directions.

“We know this is strong action, but we will not shy away from doing what we must to prioritise human health and the environment.”

Several new conditions have also been included in the licence variation to address community and environmental concerns about impacts on air quality. The mine will now be required to undertake vent emission monitoring regularly and provide a monthly report on dust discharge from one of its main vents.

Additional reports will also be required on lead dust fingerprinting research, analysis of dust impacts and sources, an independent health risk analysis, and an updated Air Quality Impact Assessment.

The variation also requires the mine to undertake works to manage dust generation underground, in addition to variations provided in April 2023 to manage the risk of dust from the tailings dam. Cadia have developed and implemented an ongoing dust suppression plan for the tailings dam and are required to monitor its effectiveness and provide monthly reports on works undertaken.

“We’ve been working closely with the community and recently begun household rainwater tank testing for residents and are in the process of implementing a comprehensive ambient air monitoring program,” Mr Chappel said.

“We will continue taking all necessary steps to ensure residents are confident their health is being protected.”

In partnership with NSW Health, the EPA has also been holding community drop-in sessions and will continue to provide support and information to the Cadia community as the investigation continues.

Separately, the Department of Planning and Environment is investigating whether the company has complied with conditions of consent in relation to ventilation shafts.

Information for the community about the broader dust monitoring program and rainwater tank testing is published on the EPA’s website.