A NSW parliamentary inquiry has heard of the health consequences of lead, gold, silver, and zinc mining operations.

Dr Ian Wright, a water researcher from Western Sydney University, has been investigating water quality in New South Wales, particularly around former mining sites. 

His recent findings near the Sunny Corner gold mine in the Central Tablelands suggest that what initially appeared as pristine waterways turned out to be teeming with hazardous metals, including cadmium, nickel, lead, copper, and arsenic. 

Arsenic levels exceeded permissible limits by 550 times, while lead and cadmium were 48 times higher than recommended levels. 

The absence of aquatic life due to contamination is posing a severe threat to the ecosystem.

Approximately 200 individuals, community groups, and companies have submitted their concerns to the parliamentary inquiry. 

The inquiry's focus extends to three key mines in the Central West region, including the Cadia gold mine near Orange, the newly approved Bowdens Silver project at Lue, which also extracts lead and zinc, and the McPhillamys gold project at Blayney. 

Local residents and community groups have raised doubts about the adequacy of regulations governing the Cadia mine, citing recent dust pollution breaches. 

Additionally, concerns surrounding airborne dust carrying heavy metals, particularly lead, have cast shadows over the planning and approval processes for the Bowdens and McPhillamys projects.

Mining companies involved in the inquiry, such as Cadia Valley Operations, Bowdens Silver, and Regis Resources (owner of the McPhillamys project), have submitted statements defending their operations and pledging to adhere to best practices. 

However, the litany of concerns raised by residents, community groups, and industry experts suggests an urgent need for stricter regulations to prevent pollution and safeguard both the environment and public health.

The first public hearing is scheduled for September 18. More details are accessible here.