dead waters

I want to thank FrontRangeScribbles and Meeka’s Mind for the opportunity to nominate irresponsible, greedy mining companies and irresponsible, greedy politicians for the Golden Toilet Award.

The G.O. and I spent a lovely Easter at our house in the rural village of Taylors Arm, on the Mid North Coast of NSW Australia, 500 kms from Sydney. The last 30 kilometre stretch from Macksville, the nearest town, is dotted with yellow signs on gates reminding us of the spectre of corporate mining, political interests and environmental devastation hanging over us.

A dozen kilometres up river is Burrapine. Best described by Lock the Mid North Coast “Burrapine is like the land that time forgot. Rolling green hills, forested bluffs, emerald river flats. The beautiful Taylors Arm river winds its way down from the headwaters up past Thumb Creek and down through the valley, feeding into the Nambucca River at Macksville. Along the way there are beef and dairy cattle farms, small acre vegetable farms and people relying on this river for household use, drinking and irrigation.”

In April last year Precious Metal Resources Pty Ltd applied for a mining exploration licence, approved on 23rd November by the NSW Dept of Energy and Resources (Minister Chris Hartcher) for gold and antimony mining in the Nambucca Valley. The license covers an area of 330sq km in the areas around Taylors Arm, South Arm, Thumb Creek, Giralong, Burrapine and Buckrabendinni. It borders on the New England National Park and several state conservation areas.

From Wiki “antimony and many of its compounds are toxic, and the effects of antimony poisoning are similar to arsenic poisoning. The toxicity of antimony is by far lower than that of arsenic…”. However, the EVISA article Antimony mine disaster states “We saw that antimony behaves very differently from arsenic – antimony oxidizes much more quickly than arsenic when exposed.”

Lock the Gate Alliance has launched Our Call to Country. “It’s a call from the heart of this country, and the people who love it, to demand real action to restrict inappropriate coal and gas mining.”

With newspaper headlines like
Greens call for immediate freeze on CSG mining
Suspend corrupt mining ops, NSW govt told
Toxic Mine Water
and information that John Dawkins, who was Treasurer and a Minister in the Keating Labor government, is on the Board of Precious Metal Resources Pty Ltd, I think we’ll need Kenny’s assistance with a fleet of Golden Toilets, otherwise the only thing our river water will be good for is flushing them.

More info:

Wiki also notes “The largest applications for metallic antimony are as alloying material for lead and tin and for lead antimony plates in lead-acid batteries.” It’s worth bearing this in mind along with RoughSeas’ An Easter message which touches on consumerism, so that objections aren’t just NIMBYism. Does it really matter to me?

“Of the good in you I can speak, but not of the evil. For what is evil but good tortured by its own hunger and thirst? Verily when good is hungry it seeks food even in dark caves, and when it thirsts it drinks even of dead waters.” ―    Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

You too can flush… FrontRangeScribbles generously invites “If you have any one you would like to nominate please feel free to do so.  The world is full of other people who are deserving to be recipients of this prestigious award second only to the Oscar.” And, in the words of Meeka’s Mind  “Please check out the blog of the highly inventive FrontRangeScribbles. And then do your bit for the planet. But if you use the Golden Toilet to have a dig at your ex. or your mother-in-law, or your neighbour, then you’re just being petty. Think global! Think making the world a better place! Think Service To Humanity.”

32 thoughts on “dead waters

  1. Firstly, thank you for the link to mine, although mine was not such a profound or specific piece.

    I think Aus has always had a troubled history with mining. Well, that’s my ignorant perspective anyway. A big country with few people, hell, let’s just rip it apart for mega-bucks. And because that’s been part of the culture, it’s insidiously continued to remain so.

    It reminds me of all the concerns about fracking – particularly of shale – in North America.

    Don’t you just love politicians getting their greasy little fingers into big money companies? I was reading around some Australian current affairs and wow, do people sound well racked off at the moment. Ms Gillard seemed to come in for her fair share of flack, but I suppose the first female PM of Aus would do.

    The Kenny vid reminded me of Partner clearing out the sewage drain in the block. A permanent job, so to speak.

    I’ve got a couple of versions of The Prophet and never yet read it. I guess I should.

    Perhaps the most important point in your post is the reference to NIMBYism. It’s always used as such a dismissive reference to opposition on the grounds that people are biased because it is local despoliation development. Or if it is not reviled for being NIMBYism, it is a political issue, and the opponents are invariably long-haired, sandal-wearing, vegetarians (oops, got long hair, wearing flipflops and veggie. Oh dear. That must invalidate my point of view).

    I remember your earlier Lock The Gate post. And, to me, because of the inherent bias and prejudice around NIMBY, I would think the way to successfully get the proposals rejected is by making it a much bigger issue. After all, who cares about your corner of the world apart from a few locals.

    It needs to matter to everyone. Because suddenly it could be in your backyard too. And even if it isn’t, it still affects all of us. /rant.


  2. Australia has always had a troubled history with mining – you are correct – but it’s been buried with $$$$. I thought the NIMBYism in the context of “It doesn’t matter to me” is really pertinent. How big is a backyard? The more we consume the more we are responsible. We can’t fairly say antimony mining is ok but not at Taylors Arm. Interestingly, consumerism in the TA area would be generally low because the incomes don’t support it. It also attracts people who are anti-consumerism, pro-sustainability. But, yes, we can’t concentrate on TA, it’s a much bigger issue, and Lock the Gate et all are about the bigger scope. There’s been a few wins – the other Lock the Gate post was about CSG in the our local city St Peters suburb and the locals had a win – the mining co. withdrew. Mining, govt corruption are big news topics right now, as well as so many environmental issues it feels like watching a huge bushfire burning on too many fronts. The hard facts, I guess, are if we with spending power don’t modify our habits all the lobbying and laws will not change anything. Money and power will continue to feed off us.


  3. I loved this post, and the comments. It seems as if everyone is against environmental degradation… in theory, but few want to think about the consumerism that drives it. A lot of that is ignorance but it still ends up being head in sand behaviour. I wonder how big a push we’ll need to change our priorities. 😦


    1. Thank you – the Golden Toilet was in the right time-place 🙂 Roughseas and the blogging world in general has been a big influence on me – I was already heading in the consume less direction as a personal preference but have gained awareness of the effects of over-consumption globally & environmetally and how we are manipulated and used by Big Co.’s who have taken us so far down this road that it’s hard to imagine there’s a way back… I too agree much of it’s ignorance (and a big dash of NIMBY-not my problem-ism) and wonder how much behaviour would-could change. Without much effort I have changed my purchasing habits while still living in the “real” world and even if everyone did only the equivalent it would make a huge difference. Every-[wo]man doesn’t realise how much power than have and what they are really compromising. I have a long way to go but continually strive to consume better/less – eventually giving up my day job and having a lot less income will effectively take care of that!


      1. I come from a generation that expected ‘things’ like fridges and cars and TVs to last so I never replace anything unless it’s completely irreparable. That’s one reason I’m still driving a 1988 Toyota Corolla. I love that car and it simply refuses to die.

        Planned obsolescence and the Cult of the New have brainwashed us into believing we can’t be happy unless we have the latest, newest, shiniest toy. But you would be surprised how quickly people /can/ adjust when they have to.

        I wasn’t alive during WW2 but people of my parents’ generation told me all sorts of stories about ‘making do’ during and after that war.

        I’m just saddened that my Daughter’s generation may be the ones having to re-learn those lessons. Someone we never seem to learn except the hard way. 😦


        1. I’m in that generation too I think. I’m traumatised each time I have to replace something – I’m used to it, I’m fond of it, I know how it works, and I hate to spend the money… My family has had along love affair with Toyota’s ever since my Dad trained as a mechanic with them in the dark ages 🙂 I had an orange Toyota Corolla 1981/82 which I stupidly traded because my then husband “needed” a ute… I’ve learned a lot since then! I now drive a 1996 BMW which I’ve had since 2001 (and hope to be driving until the day I die) which replaced a second hand 11 year old Ford Laser. When I first went to trade Lasey after it developed an unfixable oil leak I cried and couldn’t do it. Eventually when I did trade it I felt like I was abandoning it, and couldn’t look back. The quickest way to upset me is to suggest I need to replace my old Beemer 😉
          I love old stuff, recycling and upcyling – it’s so much more fun than shopping at a mall 🙂 I’m happy that it’s become fashionable to a certain extent rather than, as you say at this stage, necessary.


        2. lmao – I thought I was the only one who got sentimental about my cars! Just between you and me, I name all my cars and my Toyota is Jimmy. The mechanic keep shaking his head and saying I should trade him in. I used to tell little white lies about why I couldn’t. Now I can truthfully say I can’t afford it. 😀

          As weird as that sounds, it makes me so happy knowing he’ll end his days with me. Gawd, you’ll think I am completely soft in the head now…


        3. Jimmy is a great name. When I was little my dad had a 1969ish Corona called the Blue Bomber. We both cried when he sold it. Are you sure you’re not related to us? My family always have named their cars. When my sister got her Yaris, we all had a shot at picking a name – it’s Harris! Mine doens’t have a name really. The G.O. calls it the Beemer which considering its age doesn’t really suit – I think of Beemers as those new shiny expensive models. Mostly, I call it “lovely one” or “old girl”… some sort of pet name… yes, I talk to it! So you aren’t the only one soft in the head if that’s what it makes us.
          My mechanic, a friend, for a few years said to sell it but now he loves it as much as me, and says if I ever sell he wants to buy it for his daughter 🙂


        4. Yes! I’m so glad I’m not the only one. And I’m happy to be adopted. 😀

          Btw I much prefer those old BMWs. They were distinctive. The later models seem to blend in with all the other cars on the road. My dream car would be a vintage Porsche. Sadly I don’t think I’ll ever be able to afford even the maintenance on one of them. Oh well…


      2. Ha! I thought it was just me! We had to trade in our old 4wd a few years ago because it was too small to tow the caravan and I will admit I shed a tear. We had been to lots of great places and the old girl had got us safely to places where other fear to tread. I was so sad about it that I couldn’t go to pick up the new car and just waited at home for the Man to do it. It took a long time before the new(-er but still old) 4wd found a place in my heart.

        As for the ‘using less’ I wholeheartedly agree. We can’t hate mining etc if we use the products derived from it indiscriminately. The miners, big and small, need more people to stand up to them so they don’t start thinking that anywhere that looks promising is just waiting for the shovel.


        1. Oh yes! I think non-attachment must be one of life’s lessons for me, and at which I’m not doing too good. I have told the G.O. if he wants another motorbike I’ll buy the one we currenly have off him and other than that I dont want to know!
          I think one of the reasons I have settled so comfortably with the WordPress community of bloggers I have gravitated to, is we all care about living well and do our best in the circumstances we are in to do it carefully. No-one is about “must buy this” or “latest trend in that”.
          I’m hoping the recent outing of shady mining co.-pollie deals will shake things up.


      3. Agreed. I understand that some people feel that they have to show a really ‘green’ face (regardless of their reality) and others don’t give a rats. It is nice to have connected with bloggers who live like I do and, as you said, do the best we can under the circumstances. I like to live comfortably (and am guilty of having too many gadgets) but I don’t buy for the sake of buying and toss things away when the next shiny thing comes along. My weekly waste bin is fairly empty (as is my recycling, if I don’t buy it in the first place then it doesn’t need to be recycled) and I am doing my best to expand the veg garden.

        I WILL complain about the miners exploiting places that are best left alone and I will try my best NOT to complain about my ancient fridge, not having a clothes dryer, my ageing car, the inadequacies of the tiny local supermarket (if I want a better one I would then have to accept the larger shopping centre surrounding it) and all the other things I could change if I was happy to waste the perfectly good things I already have. ‘Consume less’ is the best way to live I think 🙂


  4. As Ella Dee says, ‘it’s a much bigger issue’, but how does one create / enforce the change from knowing and understanding to doing? How does one create change that sees people actually thinking and behaving differently. Last year we watched a bulldozer take out the indigenous forest along our river bank. We had / have had a horrific time trying to a) figure out what was going on and b) stand up to a wealthy developer, determined to build his golf course in a drought strickened area. Yesterday we were told by the government that they basically don’t have the resources to stand up to him. The same developer is busy developing a housing estate on one of our last pristine primary coastal dunes in the area.Many large houses in our village are currently standing empty with for sale signs in the garden – He publically calls him self an environmentalist. This whole debacle has left us looking like wierdo hippy types, opposed to job creation – ironically, we initially asked that the bulldozer be replaced by men as they could be more selective about the vegatation being removed – we were told that that would require ‘time and money’! The stress has been unbelievable. He went so far as to attempt to sue us for deformation – in our search to make sense of it all we came across S.L.A.P.P. Google it before you engage in any development confrontational activity! Many lessons have been learnt along the way but the big lesson that I have learnt is that people are talking change but the doing is a long way off and that us normal folk opperate at a certain level but go one level up and it is a whole different game with different rules. The rules that apply to us are simply there to make us think that there is some form of law and order. They seem to mean nothing really. Sounding jaded – sure. Will I give up or in? No way. But boy, it can get to you sometimes and we are clearly not the only people on the planet having these issues i.e. Dead Waters. The questionhowever remains – how do we engage and get others to engage with ‘the bigger issue???’


  5. Sadly right now, as your experience evidences, money plus power has the upper hand. Roughseas also touched on the “weird hippy types” used as a convenient scapegoat for big business when someone stands in their way, but there is growing realisation amongst the general population that we are being screwed by the rich and powerful, as you say, via us and them laws. The question you pose about engagement is the big one, and I believe the internet and media can offer an answer, and as Lock the Gate has done, a certain amount of branding is effective. In Australia, awareness and action has grown because the blatancy of mining co’s operations has brought them undone. They vastly underestimated people’s attachment to the ground they live on and also got lazy about environmental safeguards. It was enough to mobilise the general public into action. Had the mining co’s been subtler and smarter they probably would have sailed under the radar until it was too late. In your circumstances you have done the right thing and suffered the consequences. Many people can be sold short term solutions, job creation… beneficial development apparently, yes, in their lifetime but to what long term effect, and that is the reason why people like you stand up and fight. I wish we had more answers and less questions.


    1. Thanks Kourtney. The Golden Toilet was just what I needed as a medium to vent 🙂 It’s hard for us to physically support local issues when we aren’t there all the time but we do what we can in other ways, and our gate bears one of those yellow signs too.


      1. I think it all counts. Every blog. Every sign. Every effort made. It ripples through and if enough people do these things–it does get attention and hopefully assistance. 🙂


        1. I agree – everyone banding together, and adding branding to the fight raher than just individuals battling hs made a difference. Power of the people 🙂


  6. I’ve never heard of antimony, but it sounds like there could be devastating consequences for the land, the people and the animals in the area of the mining for years to come:-(
    When a well know battery manufacturer closed in the town where I live, it took five years to decontaminate the site before a new build could commence.


    1. Thanks Vicky. I had never heard of Antimony until about a year ago either when we found out there was interest in re-exploring them. It’s not the sort of area you typcially associate with mining. I’m hoping the recent inforamtion which has come to light about corrupt pollies and mining approvals etc will mean that the situation is reassessed. Decontamination of mining and manufacturing sites is a real issue, and mostly, pardon the pun, is buried so it becomes someone else’s issue in the future.


  7. Sometimes I get discouraged. The anti-materialistic movement of the 60-early70’s dissolved. Even before then, those who lived through the Great Depression emphasized the difference between wants and needs – and used things until they were used up.
    Too much pressure on the kids for designer brands and “things” to bolster their egos and confidence.
    Nature has a way of stepping in with hurricanes and such to try and let people reevaluate what is really important – but humans have such short memories – and are so easily dazzled by glittery things.
    Mines can ruin areas. It’s brutal. I didn’t realize Australia was having to deal with this.
    I can tell you water supply is precious – and the “acceptable” amounts of arsenic can cause bladder cancer among other things if you are unfortunate to have “bad” genes
    And all these batteries in electric cars/hybrids? Highly toxic and no one is being upfront about how to deal with them. A real concern despite the “greenness” of the cars…I’ll just keep driving the old one which has as good fuel mileage as many new ones, it easier to work on – and won’t hurt the environment ( new car production causes environmental damage – and old car disposal does, too)
    We can do better. We must be cautious and live with care.


    1. Thanks PMOTH. I get discouraged too – people don’t even realise they are being manipulated by big business and advertising agencies. I love it when I don’t have to buy something because what I have is enough, can be fixed or re/upcycled – it’s the principle of it but I’ve come to understand that it has an environmental benefit too. Most consumers look at the $$$ cost but not the total and real costs. I remember when fancy sports shoe co’s were under fire for using child and sweatshop labour – there was a momentary outrage… I agree re the green cars, and akin to that I’m worried we are being sold on solar roof panels with out knowing the manufacturing process and e-waste fallout will there be from the components down the track. I think consuming less power more efficiently is a far more effective and cheaper solution.
      And I agree, keep your old car in good condition and drive it forever but only as much as you need to, and that’s me too.
      It does really matter to me. The G.O. and I while doing the best we can in our current city life aim to live a sustainable non-consumer lifestyle at Taylors Arm… hopefully with no antimony mining.


    1. Thanks Robin. I think that’s the battle everywhere. We do need resources. We’ve come too far to turn that scenario around quickly, but emphasis should be on developing safer, more economical alternatives for the future. One of the issues is the mining co’s are driven by shareholder profits, and governments are too wussy or involved, to make them spend the considerable amounts required to at least improve the outcomes of environmental fallout. I suspect though wherever the Big Co.’s can get away with it money making will continue to be a driver rather than vision for the future.


  8. Oh no, not in your valley too! Just because the US dollar is dunked, and gold is ever more precious people can persuade the politicians it’s ok to damage the environment – and the lives of people for generations – to extract minute particles of it from deep within the earth … if an excess of nitrogen weren’t bad for our Australian bush I’d be pulling that golden chain all the time!


    1. I don’t think the pollies take much persuading… they’ve been putting it out there for coal, csg, gold antimony, if it comes out of the earth and you can make money from it…hopefully now though their greedy piggy snouts have gotten them into conspicuous strife, and sanity will prevail 😉


  9. How I hope the campaign to stop the antimony mining in your area is successful! Educating people of the problem is key and things like the Golden Toilet will capture their attention and lead them to the issues. It did me. Thank you for that and thanks to your commenters for their insights.


  10. Thank nyou. I agree – education is the key. We can’t kid ourselves that over consumption isn’t hurting our world. The Golden Toliet just gave me a platform. I love it when I have a rant – the WordPress community gives it legs. The comments are just as important as the post 🙂


  11. The Golden Toilet Award couldn’t go to a better place! When we drove up through the middle of Australia after Christmas there were thousands of miles of mines. The roads are absolutely brilliant (this is where our tax dollars are going) and there are steel sheds the size of small towns. I was shocked at the amount of space these mines take up. I used to live at the Mid North Coast and am appalled that antimony mining is allowed anywhere near the Nambucca Valley. What an absolute disgrace..


    1. Thanks – it’s all too true. I come from the Hunter Valley… most people think of it as wine country. Nup… coal country and mining it is eating everything. I last saw the mountains behind Scone, my home town, in the late 80’s – now they are obscured by coal dust. The residents of Murrurundi where I grew up fought Bickham Coal who said mining would not affect the water table… liars. The residents won. There is hope, and a lot of people have joined Lock The Gate to fight.


  12. That’s a great award, it’ll probably encourage a lot of people to speak up. 🙂 Sad that they want to soil your area… Even though i’m also definitely a consumer, as you know I love my cosmetics, but I cringe when I buy things like chips even, there’s so much packaging waste with them only being filled half. That’s a small example but I hate how everything needs to be bigger and better and even bigger.
    Meat-wise as well, and those giant bottles of juice.. A little less of everything wouldn’t hurt.


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