In light of recent inaccurate comments around discharges from the Mt Todd mine site AFANT makes the following statement:
AFANT was the organisation that brought this issue to a head and forced the NT Government to address the significant legacy issues on the site as well as the impact on the water quality and river health downstream resulting from water discharges from the site.
AFANT was extremely concerned with the impact on the water quality and health of the Edith River and the potential flow-on effects to the Daly River.
The Mt Todd mine site was abandoned in 2000 leaving a litany of environmental problems, poor design and toxic runoff into the Edith River.
The Edith River has had a decade of discharges of toxic water with heavy metals and minerals. It was not until AFANT pressured the government that anything was done to address these significant environmental problems.
It is organisations like AFANT and the community that has forced governments to address this issue.
AFANT’s key objective was to ensure that work was undertaken to eliminate all polluted and toxic run-off from the site.
While it has not been entirely possible to have no discharge from the site due to particularly large rain events, the site layout, the size of the catchment and the capacity of the retention ponds, a number of actions have been implemented to reduce the risk for discharge including:
AFANT continues to be active in ensuring that the discharges will not impact on the river downstream.
All water released from the Mt Todd site is licenced under a waste discharge licence (WDL). This licence requires the water quality to meet the Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality standards at the gauging site and the water testing site SW4, just downstream of the confluence with the Edith River.
The ANZECC standards are established to ensure the water quality is suitable for human consumption. In addition to water quality testing, the fish in the system and the Daly River have been tested to ensure they are safe for human consumption. These tests were conducted in 2008/9 and again in 2012. Fish will be tested again this year.
AFANT is represented on the Mt Todd Reference Group, which government established to provide advice on the necessary work and strategies for managing the site.
The water that has historically been released, both controlled under previous WDL and uncontrolled spills from the site, has had an extremely low Ph (around 3.3) and was extremely toxic to the river, macro invertebrates, fish and other species including being full of heavy metals.
Vista Gold has implemented a water treatment process on site which is designed to both improve the Ph of the water to a Ph of 7.2 and to remove contaminates from the water including heavy metals.
Mt Todd is a problem now and has been for at least a decade. It was poorly designed and poses real risks to the health of the Edith and Daly Rivers. This risk of water discharge has reduced with mine management staff on site to deal with issues as they emerge.
The best way to ensure that the Edith and Daly Rivers are protected into the future from the Mt Todd site is to have a full rehabilitation bond and plan in place. This is most likely only to occur if the mine is brought back into production and an appropriate bond and plan is put into place to ensure the legacy issues at the site are addressed.
No lowering of water quality standards has been approved under the 2013 waste discharge licence.
There is no risk to fish health, consumption or human safety from any release of treated water from the Mt Todd mine site.
AFANT position on the water releases from the Mt Todd site
AFANT supports the release of treated water from the batmen pit (RP3) as long as the water quality meets the ANZECC (drinking water and health standards) guidelines for fresh water at the measuring site SW4.
AFANT does not support any controlled releases of untreated water from Mt Todd.
Through working with the NT Government and Vista Gold, AFANT has secured a commitment that no planned discharges will be made of untreated water from RP1 and RP7 and that the site will be managed to reduce risks of uncontrolled discharge.
Further, AFANT has put the following position to Vista Gold:
AFANT will continue to be actively involved in ensuring that the Government, regulators and Vista Gold manage the Mt Todd site to ensure that the water health and quality of the Edith and Daly Rivers is protected to make certain that the spectacular fishing and reputation of the Territory as a fishing destination is protected.
AFANT has invited Vista Gold to attend the AFANT AGM on the 24th March to present and answer questions from AFANT members as well as interested members of the community.
The Amateur Fishermen’s Association of the NT Inc (AFANT) has responded to the government discussion paper; ‘Proposed Changes to Northern Territory Recreational Fishing Controls November 2012’ in a submission provided to fisheries today.
“AFANT has always been supportive of properly justified controls in our recreational fishery and we believe that changes to personal possession limits and other regulations are now necessary.” Said AFANT President Warren de With today.
“AFANT has and will continue to take a conservative approach to protecting recreational fishing resources in the Northern Territory to ensure that the great territory lifestyle and spectacular fishing opportunity’s continue to be available to recreational fishers across the NT.”
“The proposed changes find the balance in ensuring mum and dad anglers can catch and take home a good feed of fish while enjoying the experience, but also protect the valuable resource for future generations.”
“AFANT has considerable concerns with the sustainability of highly prized reef fish in the coastal line fishery particularly golden snapper and black jewfish. These concerns are in the main confined to areas of close proximity to major population centres, the impact of barotauma and fishing pressure.”
“It is essential that any actions to address sustainability concerns in this fishery are implemented based on the best scientific information and are implemented equitably across all industry sectors.”
“The latest information on the sustainability of the reef fish indicates that a reduction of 30% of the fishing effort across the commercial, recreational and tour operator sectors is required to protect the species that are vulnerable to over exploitation.”
“AFANT has argued that fisheries management actions must be sufficient to ensure that the quality of recreational fishing experiences continue to be available.”
“As a first step AFANT believes that the possession limit changes supported by AFANT, combined with a significant education strategy on the issues of barotauma and fishing practices should be sufficient to reduce the effort and improve the sustainability concerns in the fishery.” Mr de With said.
Media enquiries to Craig Ingram on 8945 6455 or Warren de With on 8972 1589
AFANT ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
The AFANT AGM will be held at 10am on Sunday, March 24th at the Tracy Village Social and Recreation Club in Lyons.
A number of issues will be on the agenda and there will be a free BBQ to follow the meeting. AFANT encourages you to put the date in your diary and come along.
AFANT WEBSITE UPGRADE
We have recently upgraded the AFANT website. While it’s still a work in progress, it’s coming along and will be more functional and up-to-date than what it has replaced. You can find our website at http://afant.com.au/
2009-2010 RECREATIONAL FISHING SURVEY RELEASED
The Northern Territory government has released the long awaited 2009-2010 recreational fishing survey, it can be found on the NT fisheries website http://www.nt.gov.au/d/Fisheries/index.cfm?header=Survey+of+Recreational+Fishing
COMMERCIAL BARRAMUNDI FISHING CLOSURES
Commercial Barra netting has been removed from Chambers and Finke Bays creating a recreational-only fishery from the southern end of Fog Bay to the eastern side of the Wildman River.
AFANT is committed to ensuring the maximum benefit for the community and recreational anglers is achieved by the removal of commercial barramundi fishing from Chambers and Finke Bays.
AFANT is working with government to implement a number of positive actions and management strategies to develop and maintain a world class fishing experience in the lower Mary River and Chambers and Finke Bays that is ecologically, economically and socially sustainable.
CODE OF CONDUCT
AFANT has developed a voluntary code of conduct for Chambers and Finke Bays and the Mary River and would like all fishers and boaters to be fully aware that all vessels and operators are still required to obey current boating and marine safety regulations. They should always travel at a safe speed, give way when required and be aware that other vessels may still be operating in the same area.
Due to real concerns on boating safety AFANT put forward the proposed new arrangements in relation to the one-way traffic system proposed for the Tommycut cut-through and intends to work with the relevant authorities to formalise a permanent and regulated solution to these safety issues.
Some of the angler actions contained in the code are:
AFANT encourages all recreational fishers in the NT to support the code of conduct from the 1st of February when the area will be commercial barra fishing free for the first time.
We invite anglers who regularly fish the Mary River system or Chambers and Finke Bays to get involved in the tagging and catch and effort data collection.
AFANT has produced tagging kits for anglers who regularly fish the area.
More info on the code of conduct can be found on the AFANT website http://afant.com.au/
PROPOSED CHANGES TO NORTHERN TERRITORY RECREATIONAL FISHING CONTROLS
AFANT has made submissions to the NT governments discussion paper — Proposed Changes to Northern Territory Recreational Fishing Controls November 2012.
This discussion paper is part of an industry wide approach at dealing with the decline in key reef fish species in areas of the Northern Territory. AFANT has made detailed submissions to all three discussion papers to ensure that changes are made to the effort across all sectors equitably.
AFANT has always been supportive of properly justified controls in our recreational fishery and we believe that changes to some current personal possession limits and other regulations are now necessary. We have supported option one as outlined in the discussion paper and believe that the final recommendations of the department should be submitted to the Recreational Fishing Ministerial Advisory Council before implementation.
Our submission will be placed on the AFANT website http://afant.com.au/