Australian Trout Foundation ATF Online
Dart Mining - Mt. Unicorn


Oct. '13 - Dart Mining P/L have proposed building a molybdenum mine on the headwaters of Thowgla Ck, near Corryong.
A 20-year project, this includes a 700acre tailings dam (larger than Khancoban Pondage) with a 100metre high wall. 

The dam will for all time destroy some pristine forest that includes the unspoiled headwaters of Thowgla Ck. Dart Mining plan to also cut public access to several popular roads into the area, including the main access to Mt Pinnibar, a popular 4WD destination with sweeping 360deg views. Each day for 20 years, they propose to excavate from Mt Unicorn 6,000 cub.metres of dirt & rock, trucking 1% daily to Melbourne.

Mt Unicorn will disappear.

Earth-fill dams higher than 30m have a high failure rate.

The project has a 20 environmental footprint, including roads. The increase in siltation of waterways will be dramatic, affecting not only water quality but the trout fishery upon which the regional tourism economy depends so heavily. 40% of Brown Trout from the Upper Murray/Indi Rivers spawn in Thowgla Ck, but Dart Mining plan to steal a substantial amount of that flow to fill their dam. Thowgla Valley farmers are up in arms about loss of water from Thowgla Ck, which feeds many farms in the valley, and contributes significantly to the flow of the Upper Murray River.

Dart Mining claim 80 new jobs to Corryong, but truth is only 6-8 positions will be available to locals, the remainder requiring skills not locally available.

Dart also grossly understate the water take at 10%, but truth is that's based on optimum winter flow - try min. 25% winter flow and up to 65% summer flow.

Visit to view their proposal.

Minister Matthew Guy overflew the area two weeks ago and was furious on discovering Dart had already been conducting deep-core (to 2kms) drilling for two years. He has now said Dart will have to undergo the full EIS process. Dart did not have a permit for this much pre-project activity.

The amount of bush cleared and new tracks created for drilling was hugely in excess of what is normally allowed for test drilling.

Fisheries Victoria are extremely concerned for the future of the trout fishery in the region, as are other government departments for the general environmental outlook. There are rare & endangered Alpine Spiny Crayfish in nearby creeks, so the likelihood of their presence in Log Bridge & Dinner Cks (headwaters of Thowgla Ck) is high, though no presence study has been done on these creeks.

Nobody I spoke to in Corryong was anti-mine per se, but once I revealed more facts about the project, carefully omitted by Dart when a public meeting was held two weeks prior, they were angry. In fact everyone I spoke to believed it a good thing for the area, again until I revealed more factual information.

I attended a couple of residents meetings, and discovered that Dart Mining had been active in the area for at least two years, despite no permit in place.

A friend of mine owns the last property in the Thowlga Valley before you enter the state forest, and he is desperately afraid of the effects this project would have on not just his lifestyle, but the whole area. There is no doubt it will have a tremendous impact on every facet of life in the valley - huge trucks rumbling along narrow roads originally designed only for light vehicles - huge amounts of dust & noise, at the same time as locals being locked out of the very areas they have enjoyed for generations.

How can a company like Dart be allowed to destroy so much of our bush just so they can line their pockets?

Molybdenum demand is currently in decline, so it makes no sense to start up a new mine anyway. Dart's total financial worth is sub-$6m, but they need to raise 100x that for the project to proceed.


I spent 4 days walking the site of the proposed dam, and identified more fauna species in the first two hours than Dart did in two weeks. In the 6 fauna species nominated for the area, one was a feral cat. Just what sort of 'experts' did they employ to do this important study? Their whole approach thus far could only be called arrogant.

I suggest this might make a good project for ACA or 60 Minutes on the basis that should the project proceed, it will destroy a lot more than Mt Unicorn.

Rod Barford,
Australian Trout Foundation.


Since Rod wrote this report there has been further activity at the corporate level which may turn out to be better news for our trout and the surrounding environment.

Dart Mining Statement - ASX (18th Nov. '13)                   "New Hope" - The Age (27th Nov. '13)