Residents opposed to a potential gold mine on prime agricultural land near Mount Canobolas have one week left to get 10,000 people to sign a petition to go to state parliament before it rises for five months.
The Nashdale Action Group is concerned mining exploration work conducted by Fortescue Metals Group around Nashdale, Lidster and Borenore this year could lead to a mine being established in a major fruit and wine grape growing area.
Group chairman Ken Dally said they were trying to compile a 10,000 signature petition for the Member for Orange Phil Donato to raise in state parliament.
However parliament will rise later this month, and with a state election due on March 23, it will not sit again until May.
Mr Dally said petition forms had been left at 18 sites throughout the region including schools, cafes, wineries and stores.
“We’re aiming to get 10,000 signatures before next week to hand to Phil Donato to speak on it in parliament,” he said.
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He said it was unclear how many more they needed to get the 10,000.
Under state laws a petition with 500-9999 signatures can be tabled in parliament, but without a debate.
Mr Dally said the residents were concerned any mining work would pollute vital water supplies and destroy cherry and apple orchards and vineyards in the region.
He said the group had contacted the mining company and had received information about its test exploration drilling but no details about the size or type of the possible mine.
“They’ve been drilling for most of the year. Before that they did electronic and magnetic analysis,” he said.
“We’ve looked at what's happened elsewhere in the district, like down at Kings Plains, where people weren’t too worried about it and now they have got a major mine going in.
“Longterm what we’re looking at is to see if we can get high value agricultural areas quarantined from mining.”
Mr Donato said he had spoken to Fortescue on behalf of the residents.
He said they had indicated they were now winding back the test drilling and reviewing the findings.
“I’m not anti-mining, I just don’t think, if it came to it, it is the ideal location,” he said.
“It’s prime agricultural land, it is one of the food bowls of Australia. Cherries from up there are exported overseas and they make some of the best cool climate wine.”
Fortescue was contacted for comment.
Mr Dally said you can sign a petition at the following places:
Nashdale Public School, Borenore Public School, Nashdale Hall, Racine Restaurant, Racine Bakery, Byng Street Cafe, Bunnings, The Dutch Embassy Cafe, Borrodell vineyard, Habitat vineyard, The Agrestic Grocer, Orange Farmers Markets, Canobolas Public School, Nashdale Lane Wines cellar door, De Salis Wines, Rowlee Wines, Cargo Road Wines and Hillside Harvest.
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