Environmental news

JULY 2024

Rakali observed during aquatic survey of Campaspe River

Fosterville Gold Mine (FGM) recognizes the Campaspe River as an important river system that sustains agricultural production, recreational activities, and aesthetic and biodiversity values of local, regional, and national significance. 

FGM first initiated aquatic surveys of the Campaspe River and the lower reaches of Axe Creek in 2011 and has continued carrying out the surveys since. Third-party experts, Aquatica Environmental, in compliance with state and national standards, undertook the first survey of the year.

The survey assessment includes:

• Water quality

• Macro-invertebrates (e.g., snails, worms, crayfish & clams)

• Macrophyte communities (e.g., aquatic plants)

• Aquatic fauna (e.g., platypus, fish, native water rat)

The Autumn survey has yielded exciting results, particularly regarding the observation of rakali, a native rodent also known as the "Australian Otter" or water-rat. This sighting is significant for central Victoria and adds to the growing body of knowledge about these fascinating native mammals.

Rakali have been generating considerable interest among researchers and wildlife enthusiasts in Victoria. In Ballarat, not far from the Campaspe River, a dedicated monitoring program at Lake Wendouree has been underway since 2023. This citizen science effort has been remarkably successful, with volunteers spotting rakali in nearly half of all observations.

Check out this great video below of rakali going about their nighttime activities and feasting on a fish carcass!

The Autumn 2024 survey of the Campaspe River and Axe Creek revealed conditions similar to previous autumn surveys, where water quality, plant life, and animal populations remained largely unchanged. While the survey found fewer plant species than the peak in 2021, possibly due to ongoing recovery from 2022 flooding- it recorded a high number of small aquatic insects. Alongside rakali, the survey also observed various other animals, including native and introduced fish, crustaceans, and an aquatic reptile species.

The second and final 2024 seasonal survey is scheduled to occur in spring, following which an annual summary report will be prepared.

In addition, FGM will continue to regularly monitor the health of the Campaspe River in the vicinity of its operations to assess the condition of this important river system.