It was 1975 when Sinclair v Maryborough Mining Warden changed the future of our beaches and mineral sand mining forever. High Court Chief Justice Sir Garfield Barwick together with Justices Gibbs, Stephen, Jacobs and Murphy made their feelings about the lawfulness of mineral sand mining decisions by the Queensland Government very clear.
“5. In conclusion I would, with respect, adopt what was said by Lucas J. in the Supreme Court, that the courts are not concerned with the question of the desirability of permitting sand mining to take place or with the question whether the recommendation of a warden is right or wrong, provided that he has performed the duty cast on him by the law. In the present case the warden failed to perform his duty and should therefore now be directed to proceed with the hearing in accordance with the provisions of the regulations. (at p483)”
From Cooloola, Dunwich, Gold Coast and Currumbin in Queensland to Byron Bay, Mooball, Woodburn, Jerusalem Creek and others in New South Wales, mineral sands were mined, concentrated and stockpiled. Because mines varied in their mineral composition and miners targeted different minerals over the decades, both monazite (thorium), xenotime (uranium) and other minerals were returned to particular areas of the mineral sands operation and other sites as waste. Some of this material was even used as public and private land fill. These places where mineral sand waste was stockpiled or buried during late-19th and 20th century sandmining operations are visible today in Radiometric imagery.
Cooloola Cove (QLD)
As stated in an article by Byron Bay Historical Society:
“Much concern accompanied the disposal of ‘radioactive waste’ from the processing plant. This radioactivity was caused by monazite, a thorium-bearing, resistive, heavy mineral contained in the black sand concentrated from the beaches. In the early years after WWII the Australian Federal Government mandated that this mineral be recovered and stored by the sand miners as thorium was a potential fuel for nuclear power generating stations. Ultimately uranium became the preferred fuel and most mineral sand producers were left to dispose of any monazite they could not sell. Sand miners either mixed it with normal sand and buried it or returned it to the beach whence it came.” https://web.archive.org/web/20170310191149/http://byronbayhistoricalsociety.org.au/development-of-byron-bay/population/
Brisbane and Dunwich (North Stradbroke Island, QLD)
Gold Coast QLD)
Byron Bay (NSW)
This is quoted from NSW National Parks and applies from Tue 18 Jul 2017, 7.00am to Tue 30 Jun 2020, 5.00pm. Last reviewed: Tue 15 Aug 2017, 1.12pm
“Safety alerts: Ilmenite stockpile removal and site rehabilitation
Visitors to Black Rocks campground should expect to encounter large trucks on The Gap Road. This is part of a major project to remove a sand mining tailings stockpile from the park and restore the area to a natural ecosystem. Park visitors are asked to slow down and exercise caution while driving along The Gap Road. No works associated with this project will be undertaken on weekends, public holidays or NSW school holidays. The truck movements are expected to continue until June 2020. For more information or to report any incidents please contact the NPWS Richmond River area office on (02) 6627 0200.”