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AUSTRALIA: Arrests made after Barrick mine protest turns ugly

by Jano GibsonSydney Morning Herald
April 9th, 2007

Eighteen anti-gold mine activists have been charged following a protest in central NSW, which concluded with a man allegedly ransacking the protesters' campsite while armed with a knife.

The activists, who included members of the Wiradjuri people, Friends of the Earth and the Australian Student Environment Network [ASEN], were arrested about 1.30pm yesterday after allegedly breaching the perimeter of the Lake Cowal gold mine, which is run by the world's largest gold producer, Barrick.

They claim the mine's operations are environmentally damaging.

"Barrick ... is stripping NSW of its precious water resources, internationally significant wetlands and destroying Wiradjuri history and culture," ASEN's national convenor, Nicola Ison, said in a statement released by Friends of the Earth yesterday.

"Barrick is transporting over 6000 tonnes of cyanide annually from Gladstone, Queensland, to Lake Cowal, New South Wales, creating risk of spill and lethal contamination of waterways along the 1600 km transport route," Ms Ison said.

The activists were each charged with entering enclosed lands. They were granted conditional bail and are due to appear in West Wyalong Local Court on April 26.

Police said a 32-year-old man was arrested yesterday evening after allegedly driving into the protesters' campsite and damaging vehicles and tents.

He was charged with malicious damage, failing to undergo a breath analysis, stalking/intimidation, carry a knife in a public place, as well as driving offences.

He is expected to appear in Griffith Local Court this morning.

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