The Benambra mine is located on the headwaters of the Tambo River which flows into the Ramsar listed Gippsland Lakes. See Louise Crisp’s poem ‘Gibson’s Folly (Tambo River)‘. The Wilga ore body was mined by Denehurst Ltd. from 1992-1996. The tailings dam destroyed 90% of the largest and most unique example of a rare montane swamp. The company went into receivership in 1996 and walked away from the site leaving a leaking tailings dam which cost the Victorian Department of Primary Industry $6.9 million to remediate in 2006. After rehabilitation, the tailings dam was re-named Lake St. Barbara, after the patron saint of miners. It is still leaking polluted water containing cadmium copper and zinc through the dam wall embankment. The dam also operates as a flow through system depending on rainfall.
Independence Group proposes to re-open the Wilga mine and develop the nearby Currawong mine. The company plans to expand the tailings dam to store up to an additional 7 million tonnes of toxic tailings. The dam wall will be raised another 25 metres above the valley floor (to a total height of nearly 45 metres) and increase the surface area of the dam from 8.5 ha to approximately 35 ha.
Another section of the nationally endangered sphagnum swamp will be destroyed along with 320 Banksia canei and a number of other rare species also affected.
SPZ = Special Protection Zone. Under current legislation mining is not excluded from these zones.
Rare & protected species in order of occurrence:
Purple eyebright: Euphrasia collina subsp muelleri
Purple waxlip: Glossodia major
Sphagnum moss: Sphagnum cristatum
Strawberry buttercup: Ranunculus collinus
Kiandra (Blue tongue) greenhood: Pterostylis oreophila
Spawling knawel: Scleranthus fasiculatus
Montane grass-trigger plant: Stylidium montanum
Dusky violet: Viola fuscoviolacea
Mountain banksia: Banksia canei
Sun orchid: Thelymitra sp.
Bluebells: Wahlenbergia sp