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|Location||New South Wales|
|Primary inflows||Bland Creek, Lachlan River|
Lake Cowal is the largest inland lake in New South Wales, Australia. The lake is ephemeral, being fed by the small Bland Creek and by the occasional flooding of the Lachlan River. Despite this, it retains a considerable amount of water in about 70% of years.
- Australian Pillwort
- Australasian Bittern
- Black-necked Stork
- Blue-billed Duck
- Freshwater catfish (protected)
- Macquarie perch (protected)
The lake is on the Register of the National Estate and in the Directory of Important Wetlands, and it is listed as a Landscape Conservation Area by the National Trust of Australia.
Mineral resources and mining
The area surrounding the lake is rich in minerals - especially gold - and is currently being mined by Barrick Gold, a Canadian company. There is concern among environmental groups and the local Wiradjuri Aboriginal people that the cyanide used in the mining process prior to 2007 could lead to the contamination of the lake.
Lake Cowal Campaign and Barrick Gold
The Lake Cowal Gold Mine Project plans to encompass approximately 26.50 square kilometres. One hundred and eight million tons of low to medium grade ore would be excavated from an open cut pit 1 km wide and 325 meters deep on the lake shore and partly within the high water level of Lake Cowal to produce an estimated 2.7 million ounces of gold.
There has been some conflict between protesters and mining workers over the mining activity taking place on Wiradjuri land. Despite the benefits economically to the town of West Wyalong with increased employment.
Barrick Gold has been granted a Section 90 by National Parks and Wildlife. Lake Cowal is known as the heartland of the Wiradjuri nation and is rich in artifacts. Wiradjuri elder Neville "Chappy" Williams is leading a campaign to save Lake Cowal and the Wiradjuri heartland.
The Lake Cowal Campaign aims to prevent further gold mining by Barrick Gold in the environmentally-fragile area around Lake Cowal and to stop land degradation and possible toxicity problems from the mine and its tailing dams. The Wiradjuri people are being joined in their campaign by various Australian environmentalist groups who formed the Coalition to Protect Lake Cowal initiated by the Rainforest Information Centre and Friends of the Earth Australia.
The only barrier between the lake and the open pit would be an earth wall or bund. Tailings would be stored in dams 3.5 km from the lake. Water would be supplied from a bore in the Bland Creek Paleochannel borefield, 20 km east of the mine site and will use up to 17 megalitres per day.
" Don't desecrate our dreaming site, don't mine our sacred site. I have fought Barrick in the courts for over 2 years, now it's time for us all to work together to stop this disaster waiting to happen." - 'Uncle Chappy', May 2004.
- The location of the mine Cowal and gold production until December 2009. Barrick Gold, Global Operations, Australia Pacific, Cowal. Acceded 18 September 2010.
- Internationally significant environment, not clapped-out cattle country, Independent Media Centre Australia (Indymedia). 16 September 2010. Accessed 18 September 2010.
- Activists call for mine closures in face of Lachlan water crisis, Independent Media Centre Australia (Indymedia). 29 October 2009. Accessed 18 September 2010.
- "Lachlan River catchment" (map). Office of Environment and Heritage. Government of New South Wales.
- Lake Cowal Campaign website
- Lake Cowal Railway Siding