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News

Update June 2017

Annual General Meeting 

Save Our Macleay River Inc. will hold its Annual and General Meeting at the Kempsey Macleay RSL board room at 10.30am Saturday 29th July 2017

To ensure SOMR’s on-going procedures are in accord with the Constitution at least 4 members of the current Committee are required be present. 

The AGM is to elect the next SOMR Committee and Office Bearers:

The Constitution requires the Committee to comprise of four (4) required ‘Office Bearers’ namely President, Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary, with a total of seven (7) on ‘The Committee’. SOMR Committee currently includes the optional office bearer position of Public Officer.

There are a number of administrative tasks/roles within SOMR, that are currently informally delegated (eg. membership, mail-out, website and Facebook management) whether these need formalising through optional Office Bearer positions or kept on an informal basis can also be debated at the meeting.

Nominations for the Committee (and Office Bearers) should be in writing signed by two (2) SOMR members and with the consent of the candidate and delivered to The Secretary prior to the AGM’Commttee Nomination_2017         

If insufficient nominations are received in writing, candidates can be nominated and accepted at the AGM.

Please note: Membership renewals are due on July 1st – the start of the new financial year. This can be done by either electronic funds transfer and emailing your completed Membership Renewal form, or via traditional post. Renewal Form Membership Renewal_2017

New members are always welcome. Membership Application Form Membership Application_2017

Hillgrove Mine For Sale

Hillgrove Mine is for sale – once again. Purchased by Bracken Resources in early 2013, the mine’s operation was halted in December 2015 after only 20 months of production. At the time, the main product was antimony.

While the mine has been in ‘care and maintenance’ with a much reduced number of staff, the DA process for the expansion at Clarks Gully was followed through, exploration of gold orebodies was carried out and plant modifications to increase gold recovery are being prepared.

Hillgrove Mine General Manager, Scott Jones, describes the mine as object for sale with an emphasis on a so called “Transition to Gold Strategy”. His document is published on

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/sale-hillgrove-gold-antimony-mine-australia-new-south-scott-jones

On July 10, Hillgrove Mine CEO Scott Jones informed SOMR members about the developments at the mine.  
Click on the link to read the notes Hillgrove Mine Meeting 10-7-17

Mineral Exploration at Halls Peak

In May we reported about the surprise encounter between SOMR chairman Arthur Bain and Directors of the Mineral Exploration Company Force Commodities Limited (4CE) at Gibsons Open Cut. As a result, SOMR received a lengthy letter from 4CE, informing SOMR, as a “important environmental stakeholder”, of the nature of their planned exploration drilling.

4CE, or as they refer to themselves, “Force” received approval from the Department of Planning and Environment on 16 May 2017 and intend to begin work in late June. Read the letter on SOMR 4CE Letter to Save our Macleay – Exploration activities

The letter is dated 25 May and signed by Executive Director Alistair Stephens. On 31May, in his address, the Chairman Mark Darras assures shareholders that he and the board members Peter Smith and Alistair Stephens (both visited Gibsons Open Cut) are “men of strong principles and ethics”. All three resigned on the same day, immediately prior to the company’s AGM.

It seems that Halls Peak with the potential profits from the existing mineral wealth continues to be a pawn in the game of a shareholding company. 

If you are interested in following the intriguing machinations of the company now holding the exploration licence for Halls Peak (EL4474), go to http://www.asx.com.au/asx/statistics/announcements.do  , select the time span and search for 4CE  http://www.asx.com.au/asx/statistics/announcements.do 

Macleay River Health

At the meeting on 10 June, committee members confirmed the importance of SOMR’s commitment to protecting the water quality in the Macleay catchment. The Ecohealth Card, as well as ongoing water tests at Bellbrook, show high levels of in stream nitrates which largely result from use of fertilisers in agriculture. Degradation of the creek and river banks, the riparian zones, also contribute to water pollution. At KSC’s launch of the Ecohealth Card on 2 June, Mayor Liz Campbell stated that Council has already acted on two of three recommendations.

SOMR will liaise with Kempsey Shire Council about their work and follow up on aspects affecting water quality. Much of the contamination is coming from the upper reaches of the catchment and SOMR’s concerns are not limited to Kempsey Shire. SOMR is also monitoring logging activities in the Styx River and Mungay/Collombatti areas. Cooperation between the upper and lower catchment Councils is being encouraged.

The Maclaey Argus reported about KSC’s launch http://www.macleayargus.com.au/story/4701107/a-test-of-quality/

Paddle on the Macleay – September 2017

This year the paddle will take us from Bellbrook down river to Nook Creek, a tour of about 4 hours.  First preparations and test paddles have begun. We’ll keep you informed about the exact date and other details.

Link

to an

UPDATE ON CLYBUCCA WETLANDS REHABILITATION OPPORTUNITIES

Clybucca Update Poster_2017-02-20-MSpdf

Date: Saturday March 4th – 4.30pm to 6.30pm

Venue: The Oddfellows Hall, 22 Kemp Street (opposite NORCO) West Kempsey

Presenter: Max Osborne, Senior Land Services Officer, North Coast Local Land Services

Cost: Gold coin donation

Clybucca Wetlands is a large area of land, some      10 km² kilometres or 10,000 ha, on the northern side of the Macleay River floodplain. It lies east of the hills, west of Yarrahapinni Wetlands and is divided by the new Pacific Highway dual carriageway.

   The Clybucca wetlands has been described as an “Estuarinescape Twilight Zone” by those who are exploring opportunities for its rehabilitation. The wetlands, including Mayes and Doughboy Swamps have sections which are at or below sea level, were once thriving wetlands and drought-poof refuge pastures for graziers prior to being modified by drainage, particularly in the 1960s to 70s under the extensive flood mitigation and drainage scheme.

The drainage and gates installed causes the Acid Sulphate Soils (which are found below the alluvial topsoil) to dry out during times of low rainfall. When “re-wetted” by rainwater, acid run-off along with often water containing low levels of dissolved oxygen flows into the estuary. This discharge, combined with resultant iron leachate/flock and other dissolved metals such as Aluminium, severely degrades water quality, impacting fishing and oyster industries, quality of pasture and soil health, tourism potential, and biodiversity.

Max Osborne, Senior Land Services Officer with North Coast Local Land Services, collaborating with a government inter-departmental working group, has been working towards rehabilitating this significant area of back-swamp and wetlands for the past 3 years.

SOMR encourage you to attend the presentation to see what ‘behind the scenes’ progress has been made and the opportunities for future progress.

Please support and share what is potentially a rare ‘Good News’ story, endeavouring to bring Clybucca Wetlands from the “Twilight Zone”- Back to functioning wetlands, with improved water quality, estuary dependent industries, recreational opportunities and healthy environment.

The progressive restoration of the smaller Yarrahapinni Wetlands to the east and downstream has shown that restoration is not only possible but happens relatively quickly. It is now a thriving estuarine wetland with greatly improved fish and bird habitat and with regenerating mangrove and saltmarsh Endangered Ecological Communities.

This project is supported by North Coast Local Land Services, through funding from the National Landcare Programme and Catchment Action NSW

For a print version of the poster go to Clybucca Update Poster_2017-02-20-MSpdf

Hillgove Mine News

Operations are still on hold while some exploration for viable gold deposits is carried out.

In 2015 Hillgrove Mines lodged a DA to expand mining operations to Clarks Gully. The site is part of the Hillgrove Mine lease. The proposed development would allow continuing mining after the orebody at the current excavation site is depleted. SOMR lodged a submission detailing concerns about the effects of the work on the health of the Macleay River catchment (see the post on this website October 2015) 

18 months after submissions were lodged with the then Dumaresq Armidale Council, the application will finally come before the newly amalgamated Armidale Regional Council’s meeting on Wednesday,1 March.

In preparation for the Council meeting there will be a site inspection on Monday, 27 February. Anybody who lodged a submission can attend. SOMR President Arthur Bain will speak about our concerns at the Council meeting.  


Read the presentation: SOMR Presentation to Armidale Regional Council  and reporting in the Armidale Express http://www.armidaleexpress.com.au/story/4501916/council-grants-conditional-approval-for-hillgrove-mine-expansion/

A perfect day on the water!

 

The following article was submitted by SOMR to the Macleay Argus and with some editing was published in the print edition on Tuesday 6 October.  

People came from near and far to experience the beauty of the Macleay River, enjoy the exercise and learn about the issues affecting the estuary. For the third consecutive year, the community group Save Our Macleay River (SOMR) has organised The Paddle on the Macleay.

Paddlers leaving Fishermans Reach

In brilliant sunshine and with favourable tide and tail winds, 50 paddlers, young and old, set out from Fishermans Reach near Stuarts Point, arriving at the Golden Hole and the entrance to the restored Yarrahapinni Wetlands ahead of schedule.

Eight members of the Port Macquarie Hastings Canoe Club joined in their sleek and fast boats. Club Secretary Caroline Webber said, we take every opportunity to explore the rivers on the Mid North Coast and we are particularly interested in the Macleay. Several members of our club participated in the last year’s Paddle on the Macleay. This is an excellent opportunity to be guided into the wetlands.”
Family groups chose to paddle three seater Canadians. Amongst them, Jeremy Buckingham,
Greens Member of Parliament, with his wife Sarah and son James from Bellingen and the
Robinsons from Kempsey.

Beautiful handcrafted boats

The Tilmouths from Collombatti had beautiful handcrafted ply-wood kayaks.

The youngest and furthest travelled visitor was 10 year old Darcy Penfold from Queensland,  accompanied by his grandmother Louise Turner of Aldavilla. He impresssd everybody with his enthusiasm and stamina, especially into strong winds on the return trip.

Before the boats entered the wetlands through a gap in the levee, National Parks Ranger Penny Kendall gave an introduction to the land the visitors were standing on. One relevant feature is a very large midden, mounds of shells and artefacts stretching for kilometres, testifying to the use of the area by Dhanggati and Gumbaynggir nations over thousands of years.

NPWS Ranger Penny Kendall

Penny also described how the area was drained in the 1970’s, which did not result in the good grazing land hoped for.
Instead acid sulphate soils and ‘black water’ poisoned the land and waters downstream.
After a lengthy process of negotiation by the Yarrahapinni Wetland Reserve Trust and later National Parks and Wildlife Service, tidal re-inundation effectively began in 2008. The tidal flow of saltwater resulted in an immediate reduction in acid sulphate soils. The speed and extent of the recovery was surprising.    Click here to read The Yarrahapinni Wetlands Story

Once inside the wetlands, the participants could see firsthand how beneficial the re-inundation has been for fish and bird habitats. Besides many other bird species, three black necked storks, Jabirus, were spotted. Many paddlers even made a lasting contribution after Penny suggested they collect mangrove seeds along the banks of the open water and scatter them in the wetland’s broadwater. “I made sure I dropped them where they’d easily find a foothold to grow”, said Zalie Davison of Greenhill.

Rupert Milne Home, event organiser and ex-Chair of the Yarrahapinni Wetland ReserveTrust, described the Paddle on the Macleay 2015 and the restoration of the wetlands as wonderful successes.  “Now we need to address the restoration of other wetlands such as the Clybucca,” he said.

Reaching the Golden Hole

Through the gap in the levee

Into the wetlands

The Macleay Argus 6 October 2015

 

Click on pictures to see large images

Click to read a report written for the members of the Port Macquarie Hastings Canoe Club  Paddle on the Macleay 2015 by Caroline Webber

Paddlers from Port Macquarie

Paddlers from Port Macquarie