The state government's mining regulator has issued a notice to Ballarat Gold Mine operators Balmaine Gold, ordering the company to stop using a waste rock dump which exceeded the company's site approvals.
Earth Resources Regulation, the resources branch of the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, said it took the action in May to ensure the operator of one of Victoria's major gold mines complied with its site obligations and minimised operational risks to protect the environment and land.
The Courier understands the notice was a directive to cease use of the dump as rock piles had exceeded a height safety limit. The breach was not regarded as serious.
The company has been ordered to develop and implement a plan to control risks associated with the use of the waste rock dump.
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Operations at Ballarat Gold Mine will be able to continue, with the company using other areas at the mine which have been approved to store waste rock.
"The Victorian resources sector is booming with high gold prices and record minerals exploration, and operators are obliged to do the right thing and manage risks to the environment and land associated with their activities by operating within their approvals," said Earth Resources Regulation's executive director Anthony Hurst.
"We're working closely with Balmaine Gold to ensure the risks associated with mining at Ballarat Gold Mine are minimised and necessary controls are in place.
In a statement Ballarat gold mine acknowledged the investigation, saying "the situation had slowly arisen due to limited conditions..."
"Ballarat Gold Mine is committed to remedying the issue immediately and will seek clarification for future waste management plans," said acting general manager Dr Kevin Sun.
The mine extends underneath Ballarat in several directions, from under Sovereign Hill to Bakery Hill and Llanberis Reserve. For every five grams of gold extracted, around one tonne of rock needs to be removed.
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