A MEETING will take place tomorrow night to discuss what organisers say are the radioactive risks of mining at the proposed Toongi rare earth mine. A MEETING will take place tomorrow night to discuss what organisers say are the radioactive risks of mining at the proposed Toongi rare earth mine.
The meeting has been organised by Uranium Free NSW, an organisation that has grave concerns about Alkane Resources’ Dubbo Zirconia project, which received conditional approval last month.
If the mine was approved for production, organisers say, radioactive uranium and thorium would be extracted along with rare earths.
They remain concerned Alkane Resources lodged an expression of interest and was then invited to apply for a uranium exploration licence, despite the company stating it had no intention to mine uranium and lodged the expression of interest to protect its own interest in the Dubbo Zirconia Project.
Uranium mining remains banned in NSW but the Toongi area was thought to contain one of the state’s largest deposits of the substance, according to Uranium Free NSW.
Those lined up to speak at the meeting included Dr Gavin Mudd, an environmental engineer specialising in the mining sector, campaigner on rare earths and the impacts of radiation on health Natalie Lowrey and Central West Environment Council spokesperson Bev Smiles.
Uranium Free NSW spokesperson Kerry Laws said uranium posed risks to human health, water and the environment, and increased exposure to workers or local communities could lead to cancers, birth defects, stillbirths and genetic mutations.
“Before the go-ahead is given to an open-cut rare earths mine at Toongi, local residents need to consider the impacts of radioactive particles and gases blowing over the central west for the next 20 to 80 years,” she said.
Bev Smiles from the Central West Environment Council said people in central west NSW were concerned the NSW government had targeted the area to open up uranium mining in the state.
She described the mine as “a foot in the door that will expose the people, their water sources and the environment to the risks of radioactive contamination”.
Speaker Natalie Lowrey said the radioactive and toxic substances released into the environment in rare earth processing and refining were a serious concern.
“Radioactive materials, in particular, cannot be seen, they cannot be touched and cannot be smelt,” she said.
“The smallest dose has the potential to cause risks to human health.”
Alkane Resources managing director Ian Chalmers said he was aware of the meeting but had not been invited to attend.
It will take place at the Western Plains Cultural Centre on Thursday at 6pm.
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