WATER to process gold from the planned McPhillamys mine near Blayney will not come from Orange, according to the project’s general manager.
In February last year when attempts by Regis Resources to buy treated wastewater from Bathurst City Council met opposition, Orange councillor Kevin Duffy suggested the water could come from Orange instead.
However, Regis Resources NSW general manager Rod Smith eliminated the possibility on Wednesday night during a presentation to the Environmentally Concerned Citizens of Orange (ECCO).
“That water’s being used by Cadia [Valley Operations] so Regis’ approach to that was unless that stopped, that was not on the table,” he said.
Instead, Mr Smith said Regis’ intention was to build a 70-kilometre pipeline from Lithgow to the mine.
“Centennial Coal has a surplus and it’s a water-rich area, while the central west can be water-poor at times,” he said.
Mr Smith said the although the water had higher saline content, it could become an important future resource.
“It’s not far off drinking water standards,” he said.
“I would happily survive on it.”
Mr Smith said if the Lithgow pipeline did not occur, sourcing groundwater from the Lachlan catchment was the next option.
Regis has already purchased a licence for four gigalitres a year.
“We did a lot of research and we found there were 33 gigalitres of licences and in an average year only 12 are used,” he said.
“But there’s less advantage because we’d have to pump the water 650 metres uphill.”
Mr Smith said bores on surrounding properties would be monitored to ensure they were not affected.
Regis will submit an application early next year for the open-pit mine, expected to be up to 460 metres deep, hoping for approval by the second half of next year.
“There’s 12 months for construction so we’re hoping to be operating by the later half of 2019,” Mr Smith said.
The mine is set to employ at least 200 people during construction, with about 450 direct and indirect jobs created across 10 years.
ECCO president Nick King said about 40 people attended the presentation and although the Lachlan groundwater proposal was a concern, the group was relieved Orange’s water had been ruled out.
“We have to be careful how we handle water because we have a very limited catchment,” he said.