Barrick Australia Limited v Neville Chappie Williams & Others

September 2009

EDO NSW acted for Neville "Chappie" Williams in defending an appeal by mining company Barrick Australia Limited from judgment delivered by Justice Biscoe in the Land and Environment Court.

The case concerned an application by Barrick to significantly expand and intensify its mining operations at Lake Cowal, including an increase in the mine's operational life by 11 years. Mr Williams is a Wiradjuri Traditional Owner, custodian and native title claimant in respect of the land and waters on which the Cowal Gold Mine is located. The mine has been the subject of intense and ongoing community concern since its inception.

In the Land and Environment Court, Justice Biscoe held that Barrick's application to 'modify' the existing mine approval in fact proposed a 'radical transformation' of the Cowal Gold Mine. As such, the Court held that the application did not constitute a modification request for the purposes of Part 3A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. The Court also made findings against the validity of decisions made (or to be made) by the Director-General of the Department of Planning and the Minister for Planning which relate to Barrick's application.

This matter was heard by the Court of Appeal on 1 July 2009. Judgment was handed down on 3 September 2009. The Court of Appeal upheld the appeal, overturning Justice Biscoe's orders.

EDO NSW would like to thank Mr Williams' barristers in this matter, Dr Sarah Pritchard and Mr Bret Walker SC.

Case Summary Appeal