On Monday 4th February 2013, Wiradjuri Traditional Owner, Nevillle 'Chappy' Williams and ProtestBarrick.net co-founders and editors Sakura Saunders (Canada) and Natalie Lowrey (Australia) took a cessna plane from Forbes to Lake Cowal in central western New South Wales, Australia to document a gold mine in the lake.
Barrick Gold, the worlds largest gold miner with its head office in Toronto, Canada has been operating it's cyanide leaching gold mine in Lake Cowal since 2006. This ancient lake is a significant wetland and is culturally significant to the Wiradjuri People. This sacred corroboree ground which is also part of a massive flood plain is home to thousands of migratory birds.
Despite a fierce battle waged by Wiradjuri and environmentalists for over 10 years Barrick has the go ahead to extend the life of the mine from 2013 to 2024. Since 2007 the fight to Save Lake Cowal has been taken all the way to the United Nations in New York and to the shareholder meetings of Barrick Gold in Toronto, Canada. With support from ProtestBarrick.net, Wiradjuri have met with other Indigenous communities fighting Barrick Gold from Papua New Guinea, Chile and the United States.The battle to Save Lake Cowal has had many successes on the way and in the words of Neville 'Chappy' Williams, known fondly to many as Uncle Chappy, "We will fight to the bitter end'.
The slideshow video of the recent flight over Lake Cowal shows Barrick's mine pit in the lake bed surrounded by water. On the flight there were hundreds of birds seen in the 1km square toxic tailings dams. Many of these birds have flown great distances to get here and cannot differentiate the difference between the water of Lake Cowal and the tailings dams of the mine. The contamination of water with cyanide and heavy metals by the mine is of major concern to Wiradjuri Traditional Owners and environmentalists.
This is a David and Goliath story, like thousands of other around the world, documents extractive corporations continuing impunity, their abuse of human rights and destruction of Mother Earth.
The fight to Save Lake Cowal will continue ...
Save Lake Cowal! Water is More Precious Than Gold! Wiradjuri Forever!
savelakecowal.org [site under construction, please come back in March 2013]
Special thanks to Kev Carmody for the use his song 'Thou Shalt Not Steal' for the Save Lake Cowal campaign.