On Sunday 21 November, Wiradjuri Traditional Owner, Neville ‘Chappy’ Williams, Friends of the Earth campaigner, Natalie Lowrey and photojournalist, Conor Ashleigh took an aerial flight over Lake Cowal.Lake Cowal is an ephemeral lake which has a wet and dry cycle of 20 years. The past 10 years has seen the central western NSW region where Lake Cowal is situated in drought, but many like Wiradjuri Traditional Owner, Neville ‘Chappy’ Williams has warned of the big wet seasons. In the past 6 weeks this area has seen huge amounts of rainfall, Lake Cowal is 75% full of water. Once paradise to much wildlife and leisure time for locals, Lake Cowal now has a large open cut pit penetrating into it lake bed.
These aerial photos testify to the absurdity of Barrick Gold’s mine in Lake Cowal. When more rains come, or even the floods (Lake Cowal sits in a huge flood plain) how will Barrick prevent the flow of water from entering its operation? How will they be able to contain the toxic waste that sits in 1km square tailing’s ponds that sit below the flood level? And if they are able to escape this potential disaster how will the be able to rehabilitate what was once a pristine wetland and lake to its original health.
The cultural significance of this lake has been desecrated. Barrick’s cyanide leaching goldmine is an environmental and social disaster waiting to happen. Yet this largest global gold miner from Canada is willing to put Wiradjuri sacred land, bird and wildlife, and our food bowl at further risk by aggressively pushing to expand the pit further into the lake bed.
View photos here
View media release here