An alleged licence breach by mining companies could result in a new vehicle for the Rural Fire Service.
An alleged licence breach by mining companies could result in a new vehicle for the Rural Fire Service. Brian Cassidy

RFS eyes new utility vehicle as miners prepare to pay up

AN ALLEGED licence breach by mining companies could result in a new vehicle for the Rural Fire Service.

This week the NSW Resources Regulator accepted an enforceable undertaking which included a $55,000 donation to the RFS Clarence Valley district, after two subsidiaries of Castillo Copper allegedly breached their exploration licenses at Cangai.

District manager, Superintendent Stuart Watts said they had been approached by a lawyer representing the companies involved, Total Minerals Pty. Ltd. and Total Iron Pty Ltd, before the enforceable undertaking was submitted to discuss the donation.

"We were approached and I have forwarded that on to the RFS to ask for formal advice on the matter."

"I will be delighted if the cheque is presented."

Superintendent Watts said the money would be used to purchase a utility vehicle to assist volunteers in the area.

"If we are successful in obtaining the cheque it will go towards the purchase of a support vehicle to deliver meals to firefighters and be used as transportation for volunteers."

Clarence Environment Centre's John Edwards, who was instrumental in alerting the regulator to the alleged breaches said it was a "great thing for the RFS" but was concerned it could be used by Castillo "to gain some brownie points with the local community".

"We shouldn't overlook their past record which has been deplorable and undoubtedly would have passed undetected but for vigilance and actions of the local community." he said.

An image from a Castillo Copper promotional video at the site of the old Cangai mine.
An image from a Castillo Copper promotional video at the site of the old Cangai mine. Castillo Copper

Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis said he could not comment on the penalty imposed by the Regulator because he did not know the extent of the damage, but had confidence in the regulatory process.

"I have no doubt the NSW Resources Regulator has taken appropriate action to deal with mining companies that have contravened the Mining Act by failing to meet conditions of their exploration licences," he said.

"Total Minerals and Total Iron must be aware of their legal and environmental obligations and if they breach their obligations then the appropriate penalty should be enforced."

An enforceable undertaking was an agreement made between the Regulator and a company after an alleged breach of the Mining Act and Mr Gulaptis said they were used to "deliver immediate results and avoid lengthy and often costly legal proceedings."

"Enforceable undertakings are a common legal tool used following alleged legal breaches," he said.

"Before it is accepted, an enforceable undertaking must be shown to deliver clear and tangible benefits for the industry and broader community."

Castillo Copper were approached for comment but had not responded at the time of publication.



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