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Gold miner defies directive to take down fence

Nathalie Fernbach and Charlie McKillop, Wednesday October 16, 2013 - 15:55 EDT
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A furore has erupted over the erection of this fence - ABC

A furore has erupted over a fence put up to stop members of the public going onto a remote mining lease in Far North Queensland.

Graziers in the drought-declared Etheridge Shire, west of Cairns, claim the fence blocks the main access road onto several properties and is putting starving cattle at risk.

The Queensland Minister for Mines and Natural Resources, Andrew Cripps, says the mining company, ERO Georgetown Gold Operations, was ordered to remove the fence by last Friday.

But that still hasn't happened, and the caretaker at Flat Creek Station says it means a relatively easy 45-kilometre trip to town for supplies has become a three-hour ordeal across a very rough bush track.

"It's our main access and has been for the past 60 years, to my knowledge.

"We just want the fence down so we can get in and out to pick up lick and to get fuel to pump water to try and save these cattle.

"I'm not worried about a mining lease, or whose right and whose wrong, I just want to be able to get to town."

ERO representative Gail Bradshaw says the fence was necessary to meet the company's workplace, health and safety obligations.

"When we are operating heavy mining machinery, big machinery, it is very dangerous. We can't be aware of where other people are.

"They also need to have an induction when they enter on to a mining lease, so you can't just walk in willy-nilly and enter on a mining lease," she said.

The Etheridge Shire Council has refused to comment, but a post by Mr Cripps has confirmed his department is aware its directive to take down the fence has been ignored.

Mr Cripps says the lease holder may face a fine of up to $55,000 or a potential loss of lease should it not co-operate.


© ABC 2013

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