Jackass Flat mining site to be fenced due to arsenic levels in calcine sand

MOUND: An example of a mullock heap, or mine tailings site, in Long Gully. Picture: GLENN DANIELS
MOUND: An example of a mullock heap, or mine tailings site, in Long Gully. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

A FOURTH historic mining site will be fenced off to stop people risking their health around arsenic-laden sand.

The fence is expected to be installed around land in Prouses Road, Jackass Flat in July.

Arsenic-laden sand will be sprayed with a dark green polymer coating to stop it leaving the site, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning program manager Calum Walker said.

"Agencies will monitor the works to ensure no sand moves off site and there is no increased risk to local residents while this work is undertaken," he said.

The Environment Protection Authority issued clean up notices at four sites earlier this year.

All were once used for roasting mine tailings to extract gold. That "calcining" process concentrated minerals containing arsenic.

One site's calcine sand contains 46 times the acceptable level of arsenic, according to a DELWP planning application submitted to the City of Greater Bendigo's planning department recently.

That bushland in Sparrowhawk Road, Maiden Gully, will also be fenced off later this year if the application is successful.

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Polymer coatings will also be sprayed again at two other sites, Mr Walker said.

One off of Marong Road in Maiden Gully will get its third coating in three years, while another in Pearce Street, California Gully will get its second in two years, he said

Both areas have already been fenced off from the public.

Story continues below EPA booklet

DELWP has hired an independent auditor to help write a remediation plan for the Marong Road site, Mr Walker said.

Mining in Bendigo charts back to the 1850s and a number of government departments are responsible for a number of sites where abandoned works sit, including DELWP and Parks Victoria.

While arsenic in mine tailings might be harmful to health, most people have only a very small chance of being affected, according to a paper on the EPA's website.

Babies and children are more likely to be affected than adults especially those who eat small handfuls of mine tailings, the paper said.