October 6, 2023


Lead mine threatens Australia's beef exports, warns inquiry



Australia's reputation in beef cattle exports could be affected if plans for a lead mine in New South Wales proceed, according to a stern warning delivered during a state parliamentary inquiry, ABC News reported.


The inquiry, aimed at assessing the current and potential impacts of gold, lead, silver, and zinc mining on human and environmental health, recently held a crucial hearing in Mudgee. It featured testimony from various experts, including veterinarian David Parry-Okeden, who expressed grave concerns about the Bowdens Silver project's consequences.


The Bowdens Silver project intends to extract lead, silver, and zinc in the vicinity of Lue, a small hamlet in New South Wales. Dr Parry-Okeden, among 12 witnesses, emphasised the peril of lead-contaminated dust affecting livestock, domestic animals, and wildlife.


Dr Parry-Okeden said that lead is the most frightening and most emotional poison that we know about in the world, underscoring its potential impact on Australia's beef and export industries. He cited a recent example where Indonesia banned Australian cattle exports over concerns of lumpy-skin disease, which turned out to be unfounded.


The veterinarian stressed that lead exposure primarily occurs through contaminated water sources. Additionally, he illustrated how animals could inadvertently ingest lead, with examples like horses licking lead-based paint due to its sweet taste and birds pecking at lead paint, which often led to paralysis and death.


Dr Parry-Okeden also raised concerns about prevailing winds carrying lead dust potentially hundreds of kilometres eastward to regions such as the Blue Mountains and Hunter Valley.


Despite the risks, Dr Parry-Okeden expressed scepticism about the political will to oppose the mining industry due to its economic significance. He suggested that seeking international intervention, potentially through the court of the Hague, might be the only viable solution to address these concerns.


The parliamentary inquiry will reconvene at the New South Wales parliament on October 27.


-      ABC News

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