A STATE Government-appointed panel has this week heard from up to forty Stawell residents, most of which are opposed to the proposal to mine Big Hill.
In her submission to the four person Inquiry Panel, headed by chairperson Jennifer Moles, resident Marion Kossowski said research she has done shows there is nowhere in the world where an open cut mine has been proposed within 40 metres of a residential area, or 350 metres of the central business district of a large town, as the EES proposes.
"No-one should be expected to reside as close as 40 metres from the edge of an open pit mine," she said.
"Even in outback regions of the Northern Territory and Western Australia it has never been done before."
Mrs Kossowski said Stawell's existing beautiful scenic backdrop is under threat from two proposed 'huge, noisy, dusty gaping holes'.
"This project will not just obliterate Stawell's beautiful natural icon, but will impact on the health and well-being of nearby residents and all of Stawell," she said.
Ian Magee, lay witness for Helga Saunders told the panel it should reject the proposal by Crocodile Gold.
"There is insufficient rigour in the argument presented by the company for an economic or other gain to the community which could be balanced against the quantifiable environmental and social harm attached to this project," he said.
"The company has not been able to provide an example elsewhere in Australia where a company has been able to successfully reconstruct a landform with contours as abrupt as the western face of Big Hill."
Lesley Bennett said she believes the project proponents have no intention of returning the hill to its original topography which is a fairly steep ridge.
"I am aware that there will be a bond, but will it be big enough to clean up and 'rebuild' Big Hill?," she said.
Mrs Bennett also raised concerns about the health of people across Stawell.
"It seems to me that if larger particle dust from a volcano can cause havoc drifting right around the world and heavy Mallee dust can reach Melbourne, then particulate matter would drift much further than the immediate surrounds of the proposed pits and probably much further than the town," she said.
"I am concerned about the health of our residents, particularly our children at the nearby schools and those who already have respiratory problems."
The first week was dominated by project proponents Crocodile Gold (the owner of Stawell Gold Mine), but the panel did hear from relevant State Government departments and the Environment Protection Authority, and Northern Grampians Shire Council.
The hearing, being held at the Federation University Building in Sloane Street, Stawell is expected to come to a close today but not before the project proponents put forward a right of reply.