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Trip into Orange takes '50 percent' longer following Cadia evacuation

The Cadia mine. Google Earth.

August 3, 2022

By Peter Holmes

Among the emails sent to Newcrest Mining following the evacuation of its Cadia operation on July 22 - and the subsequent closure of main artery Cadia Road for safety reasons - was from an expectant mum who lived near the mine.

“She is having her third child, and she goes to Orange for everything - shopping, healthcare, swimming lessons,” said Gem Green, convenor of Cadia Community Sustainability Network.

Green said the woman was one of a number of locals who had written to the mining giant giving feedback about the inconvenience caused by traffic into Orange from Cadia Road being diverted to other thoroughfares such as Woodville, Four Mile Creek, Panuara and Errowanbang roads.

The vent rise. Google Earth.
On Tuesday night representatives from the company met with local residents at the mine’s Cadia/Ridgeway Training Centre. One attendee estimated there were about 35 people there in total, including 20 to 25 concerned citizens.

Green, who said the community group had a mailing list of about 80 people, was one of those at the meeting. She was not only concerned about the safety of workers and the protection of the environment, but the impact of diverted traffic on residents.

Green lives in Errowanbang, near the Flyers Creek Wind Farm, which is about three months into a 15-month construction schedule.

She said the roads in the area were not handling the volume of trucks around the wind farm site, and that while she agreed with the closure of Cadia Road, it had exacerbated the problem significantly.

Errowanbang Road this week. Supplied.
Green said residents were told the road would be closed for up to eight weeks.

“I’m pleased they’ve closed Cadia Road, as I wouldn't like to be driving past in the event something further happened,” she said.

She urged Newcrest and Blayney Shire Council to “deal with it” as quickly as possible, describing the situation as “dangerous”.

“The timing is unfortunate, as two years of wet weather means [parts of] Errowanbang Road are crumbling, and council can’t keep up.”

She said the closure of Cadia Road had increased her travel time to Orange by about 50 percent, from about 30 minutes to about 45 minutes each way.

Tallwood Rd near Forest Reefs this week. Supplied.

A Hyundai i30 bought to save fuel on trips to and from Orange was no match for the “rough, slightly gravelly” roads, and Green no longer used it for such journeys.

She also pointed to potential delays for any emergency services attempting to reach the area from Orange.

Following the evacuation of the Cadia mine, after water from an aquifer flowed into a ventilation shaft (“vent rise”) adjacent to Cadia Road, causing instability, Newcrest said its key focus was on the safety of its workers, and allaying the fears of the community following the closure of the road.

“The safety of our people and that of the community remains paramount,” said Cadia's general manager Aaron Brannigan in a statement.

After the mine was evacuated in July, Brannigan said the decision was taken to ensure the health and safety of the miner's workforce.

"The evacuation was due to instability in one of Cadia's vent rises," Brannigan said at the time. "All personnel were unharmed and many are continuing work in other areas of the operation."

The Environment Protection Authority said water from an aquifer had flowed into the ventilation tunnel. It was investigating.

On August 3 another statement was released by Newcrest quoting Brannigan.

“Cadia is committed to an incredibly rigorous and thoughtful process around the conduct of our operations and a central part of what we do is listening to the community,” the GM said.

Wind farm development and variable speeds this week. Supplied.

“Last night, we held a local community resident’s meeting to provide an update on the situation as we know it to be at the time and a summary of our investigations surrounding the vent rise to date.

“We presented the proposed response plan and participated in an open and transparent discussion on the situation, projected timelines around the re-opening of Cadia Road and the underground operations.”

Brannigan said the response plan would consist of a series of steps – “the initial assessment of the area directly surrounding the vent rise to ensure it is safe to access, the mobilisation of drill rigs to install a high-pressure grout curtain to minimise the water inflow, and filling of the vent rise with inert rock material to stabilise it”.

He said the mine would “continue to work in collaboration with Blayney Shire Council regarding the temporary closure of Cadia Road”, and that the response plan and proposed timeframes “continued to have no impact on production and all surface and maintenance activities remain operational”.

Green described the meeting with Newcrest staff as “very good” and said she was satisfied at this stage with the level of detail offered by the company.

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