Pumping groundwater from historic mines

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) is investigating ways to pump groundwater from historic mines in Eaglehawk (VIC) to prevent contamination in the region.

Mining engineers will be in Eaglehawk to find ways to divert groundwater from the mine to prevent environmental and economic impacts across Bendigo and surrounding areas.

DELWP has contracted the Bendigo Trust to uncap the former Specimen Hill mine shaft behind Sailors Gully Road to determine if the shaft could be used as a short term solution.

DELWP Loddon Mallee Regional Director, Graham Phelps said, “While there is no immediate threat from the contaminated water the uncapping of Specimen Hill mine will help identify viable options to divert the groundwater while the transition option is in place.

“The pumping of groundwater from the Central Deborah tourist mine to the New Chum line was stopped pending the transfer of the Bendigo mining and exploration licences. During this time water was pumped to the Garden Gully line and continues to be the case.

“Now that the licence transfer has been approved DELWP can enter into negotiations with the new holder GBM Gold to again pump from Central Deborah to the New Chum line as soon as possible.

“These arrangements will ensure that deep levels of the popular tourist attraction are not inundated and level nine tours can continue to operate while the transitional option is being implemented.”

Mr Phelps said the work at Specimen Hill mine is expected to take one to two weeks and during this time nearby residents may hear excavation work as the engineers locate the top of the shaft and uncap it.

“Bendigo Trust will submit a report to DELWP on the suitability of Specimen Hill mine shaft to be used as part of the transitional solution,” Mr Phelps said.

Groundwater located in historical mine workings beneath Bendigo has been recovering to natural levels since mining ceased in Bendigo and surrounding areas.

The groundwater has elevated levels of salinity, arsenic, other heavy metals and hydrogen sulphide gas and is currently being carefully managed so it poses no immediate risk to the environment or community.

The 2016-17 Victorian Budget includes funding of a further $14million to enable implementation of the transitional response, bringing the total commitment to $27.4million.

The transitional option – which is based on the treatment of the groundwater at Coliban Water’s Epsom Treatment Plant – includes processes and infrastructure that could be utilised within the permanent solution, delivering even greater value for Bendigo and surrounds.

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