FIFTY environmental activists have stormed and occupied an open cut goldmine in Western New South Wales, halting mining operations, and causing the arrest of
eight protesters, police and the activists said today.
Activist spokesman Graeme Dunstan said protesters opposed to the use of cyanide at the Barrick gold mine, 40km from West Wyalong near Lake Cowal, jumped perimeter fences at the mine and ran past a dozen security guards to occupy the pit about 11am (AEST).
Police and ambulance officers were called to the mine where one of the protesters had chained himself by the neck to a large mining truck.
The protester chained to the truck was cut free by mine workers. No one was injured.
Narrandera-based police inspector Kevin Hutley said up to 50 people trespassed on to the Barrick mine lease today.
Officers arrested five males and three females and took them to West Wyalong police station where each was charged with one count of trespass, Insp Hutley said.
All the protesters submitted peacefully to arrest and the remainder were bussed out of the mine after successful negotiations, Insp Hutley said.
"We are quite happy with the cooperation of the protesters," Insp Hutley said.
He said about 70 protesters set up camp outside the mine yesterday in what has been an annual protest against the mine for the past five years.
Before today only three arrests had ever been made in relation to the protests, Insp Hutley said.
Mr Dunstan, whose group call themselves Cyanide Watch, said while the mine was being built for the past five years, the actual mining of gold had only started a couple of weeks ago.
He said mining had continued over the Easter holiday but was halted today by the invasion for safety reasons.
Cyanide Watch plans to block the delivery of six container loads of cyanide to the mine at 6am (AEST) tomorrow, Mr Dunstan said.
"Cyanide is a deadly toxic poison and we are here to stop the delivery at the mine gates tomorrow morning," he said.
The group also plans a number of further actions this week in towns along the cyanide's route from Sydney.
The Cyanide Watch activists are among 120 protesters who had joined a protest camp against the mine in sympathy with a faction of the local indigenous clan, the Wiradjuri people, who also oppose the mine, Mr Dunstan said.
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