The Regulation of Mining Waste in Nineteenth Century Victoria

With Professor Susan Lawrence, La Trobe University

Wednesday 24th October
1pm - 2pm

Room G27, Ground Floor,
Melbourne Law School, 185 Pelham Street, Carlton

Mining waste was a significant environmental problem in nineteenth-century Victoria.  Sludge from mining flowed into rivers across the colony causing significant damage and disruption to downstream communities.  The struggle to regulate sludge lasted fifty years from the European discovery of gold in 1851 to the eventual inclusion of anti-sludge provisions in the Mines Act (1904).  Analysis of community action and legislative response over the decades reveals shortcomings in customary riparian rights in the unique social and legal context that resulted from the gold rush. It also reveals the gradual emergence of an environmental conscience that ultimately compelled industry to take responsibility for its waste.