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Environment Centre NT - protecting nature, living sustainably, creating climate for a change

Chief Minister: Clean up and close McArthur River Mine

Sick Country is a new short film produced by the Environment Centre NT with Traditional Owners and the community of Borroloola speaking out about the damage done by Glencore’s imposed and reckless mining at McArthur River.

One week to go until the deadline set by the NT Government for McArthur River Mine operator Glencore to pay an increased rehabilitation bond for the troubled site or face closure.

Add your name to the letter below to the NT Chief Minister reminding him of his government’s responsibility to protect people and the environment at McArthur River from Glencore’s reckless mining.


Dear Chief Minister Giles,

I stand with the Traditional Owners and residents of the McArthur River region in calling on your government to keep its commitment to withdraw authority to mine at Glencore’s McArthur River Mine if the company fails to pay for comprehensive clean up and rehabilitation by the deadline of 1st October 2015.

Glencore’s open pit lead and zinc mine in the bed of the McArthur River is 50km south of the town of Borroloola. The river, controversially diverted around the expanding mine pit, is the lifeblood of the Gulf of Carpenteria. Residents, tourists and recreational fishers eat the river’s abundant fish, and local pastoral stations and communities rely on its freshwater.

Last year the mine’s waste rock dump caught fire due to reactive chemistry. The mine’s Independent Monitor warned, if not fixed, major acid metalliferous drainage problems would leach sulphuric acid into surrounding waterways.

The mine’s leaking tailings dam was found to be at risk of collapse and in 2014 high levels of lead were found in local fish stocks and 400 cattle had to be destroyed after the Department of Mines and Energy found cattle contaminated with lead after accessing a contaminated creek on the McArthur River Mine site.

Glencore is in breach of its operating conditions, continuing to discharge contaminated water in the McArthur River at double allowable limits. In response to revelations of major risks posed by its reckless mining activities, Glencore has so far refused to pay an increased rehabilitation bond to ensure site clean up.

Freedom of Information requests by the McArthur River’s Aboriginal Traditional Owners have revealed internal NT Government memos contained warnings that Glencore’s actions would have ‘catastrophic consequences’ for downstream environment and communities. These warnings have been ignored by the NT Government.

We are calling on your government to ensure on October 1st Glencore pays for the comprehensive clean up and transition to a post-mining phase of operations to protect the river and local communities from the company’s reckless actions:

  • Prosecute operational breaches
  • Stop production at McArthur River mine until contamination problems are solved and insist on mine rehabilitation and environmental clean up
  • Cancel open pit expansion plans and backfill reactive waste rock
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