Further safety measures for Stawell historic areas

Friday 14 August, 2020

Temporary fencing will be installed at two historic areas in Stawell to restrict access to some sections where calcine sands are being managed.

Calcine sands, a form of mine tailings that are identifiable by their red or purple colour, were left behind following the extraction of gold from rocks during historic gold mining activity. 

At the Moonlight-cum-Magdala and Oriental Mine Company historic areas, the presence of calcine sands has been confirmed after analysis of samples taken earlier in the year. The samples found the sands contain elevated levels of arsenic, a heavy metal that occurs naturally through the Goldfields and central Victoria. If swallowed or ingested, arsenic can be harmful to human health.  

After covering the suspected calcine sands earlier this year and installing signage, Parks Victoria is putting in place temporary fencing to prevent access to exposed areas. Exposed sands will also be covered by mulch to prevent them being spread by the wind. Additional signage will be installed and nearby residents will again be contacted. These actions seek to minimise potential risks to human health and the environment.

These temporary measures, as directed by the Environment Protection Authority Victoria and supported by the Northern Grampians Shire and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, will remain in place until a full assessment of the two historic areas can be completed. This assessment will commence later this year and help determine how calcine sands are managed into the future.

The majority of the two historic areas remain open to the public, however people are advised to observe signage and stay off areas that have had access restricted. Visitors are reminded of the public health measures in place across regional Victoria, including physical distancing, the wearing of face masks, and that there are only four reasons for leaving home.

Information about mine tailings/calcine sands:

  • Gold mining works create ‘tailings’ and leftover material such as rock, sand, and earth that can sometimes be higher in arsenic than the surrounding soil and rock. 
  • Many towns and cities in Victoria have been built in areas with a history of gold mining and mine tailings that contain arsenic are spread over areas of land.
  • Arsenic and other heavy metals occur naturally through the Goldfields and Central Victoria. 
  • Further information on living with mine tailings/calcine sands can be found in the EPA publication, “Are you living in an area with mine tailings?” https://www.epa.vic.gov.au/about-epa/publications/1706

Media enquiries

Josh Maher

(03) 8427 3144 Mobile: 0448 373 986


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