UNDERGROUND blasts at a Ballarat gold mine are being delivered with so much force that residents are reporting interrupted sleep, damaged walls and threats to personal safety.
Ballarat East residents have compared the rumble from the daily explosions to an earthquake, with one describing it as “like a shotgun being fired seven times”.
Residents of Gray and Richardson streets say they are fed up with the explosions, part of mining exploration more than 650 metres underneath Ballarat.
Complaints were made to Castlemaine Goldfields about the explosions as early as February, with some blasts occurring at 1am.
Graeme Barton, who lives in Gray Street, was so concerned about his frail wife falling over the company now sends a text message warning of the explosions five minutes before they occur.
Mr Barton’s wife suffers from a muscle-wasting disease and is forced to move around with the help of a walker.
“When the explosions go off it vibrates the whole house.She’s frightened she’s going to fall over,” Mr Barton said.
“No one should have to live with that.”
Paul Greig, of Richardson Street, said the blasts sometimes woke him up when they went off at 6.45am.
“Sometimes it gives me a fright, because you’re not expecting it,” he said.
“The first one on February 4, which was really severe, I didn’t know what was happening. I thought we were having a tremor. It really shook. The television shook.”
In an email to Mr Greig, Castlemaine Goldfields apologised for occasions where it had fired two explosions in the same area simultaneously. It pledged to not do so again “in an effort to reduce the surface impact”.
The company also changed the duration and size of the blasts, as well as ensuring the blasts did not take place between 10pm and 6.45am.
Castlemaine Goldfields Ballarat Mine general manager Lance Faulkner said blast monitors used by the company had not picked up vibrations outside regulations.
He said the company was open to hearing from residents disturbed by the explosions.
“We understand some people are annoyed but we’re trying to work with them so they’re not annoyed,” he said.
Mr Faulkner could not say when the blasts would cease, but said the company was trying to lessen the disturbance.
“We’re about minimising our impact on Ballarat. We understand that the city of Ballarat is sitting on top of us,” he said.
Tony Harris, who lives next to Mr Barton, said the blasts were enough to make ornaments on his shelves move.
“It’s bloody loud. My wife’s got a health problem and it affects her nerves,”he said. “You can’t get used to it. It’s constant.”
Carole Storey-Smith, who also lives on Gray Street, said the force of the explosions appear to have left a large crack in the plastering of her house.
“It’s very frightening. When the first one happened, because we didn’t know, we were scared out of our brains,” she said.
Castlemaine Goldfields denied any structural damage had been caused by its blasts.