Community action can drive change and save our township.

Toxic cloud threatens township

Lue village and its public school are located within three kilometres of the mine open-cut pit which involves highly toxic substances such as lead, cadmium, arsenic and silver. The experience of other large open-cut mines is that this distance falls far short of sufficient distance to protect residents from the serious impacts of dust and noise. There is no other new open-cut lead mine is Australia that has been established in such close proximity to an existing community, and no other lead mine close to a community that is totally reliant upon water collected from roofs, and so exposed to the risk of toxic metal contamination.

"There is a high risk of existing rainwater tanks for drinking water supply becoming unsafe due to metal and metalloid contamination"

Professor Noller, Associate Professor and Principal Research Fellow for the Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation of the University of Queensland expresses concern for drinking water contamination for a community totally reliant upon rainwater collection. Metals and arsenic may impact on the drinking water supply via dust dispersion and solubilisation in rainwater tanks via dust dissolution. Therefore there is a high risk of existing rainwater tanks for drinking water supply becoming unsafe due to metal and metalloid contamination.

  • There is no safe level of exposure to lead.
  • Risk of contamination of domestic water tanks.
  • Less than 3km between open-cut mine and Lue village - much less than the minimum buffer zone of 5km recommended by experts
  • Intrusive noise pollution
  • Damage to surface and subsurface water

There is no safe level of exposure to lead

There is scientific consensus that there is no safe level of exposure to lead. The risks are particularly high for children, with compelling scientific evidence that lead exposure reduces IQ and impacts upon behaviour, being a significant factor in the development of ADHD and anti-social behaviour. These deficits are life-long. There are also risks for adults from lead exposure. A paper published in Environmental International supports the findings of previous studies that children who are exposed to lead are more likely to suffer from behavioural problems. In tracking lead emission rates against the rates of violent assaults 22years later in six US cities, the study is able to document a clear association between lead in the environment and crimes of aggression.

In an interview with the ABC Radio's The World Today, an environmental scientist from Macquarie University, Dr Mark Taylor has stated that the evidence of this study, alongside other studies with similar results is quite compelling. Dr Taylor also stated that while lead from vehicle emissions is no longer the problem it was, lead from other sources such as mining operations remains a problem, and that is it not a dead issue at all.


Insufficient buffer between mine and existing community

A forum on lead held at Macquarie University, involving over 60 national and international medical, public health, environmental and toxicology experts from universities, industry, government and health departments, affirmed that the breadth of scientific research of recent decades supports the view that "there is no safe level of lead". The serious neurological and behavioural outcomes for even very small exposures to lead by children are well-documented.

The view of the forum was that every effort must be made to eliminate lead exposure. In view of past mistakes in allowing sources of lead exposure, such as in mining, to be in proximity to communities, the forum was of the view that the same mistakes must not be repeated. In their consensus statement, the forum declared that "Where new potential sources of lead pollution are proposed, there needs to be sufficient geographic separation, unlike the co-location of many existing mining and smelting industries and communities".