Metals in the wilderness

Tasmania's south-west is famous for its wilderness, beautiful rivers and rugged coastline. But all is not quite as pristine as these images suggest. The central west coast's Macquarie Harbour, and the lower part of the King River that drains into it, have higher than normal levels of heavy metals (manganese, copper, cadmium, nickel and zinc) and petroleum-derived hydrocarbons. Results of the analyses clearly showed that the King River is the conduit by which the heavy metals enter Macquarie Harbour. The sampling showed very high levels of heavy metals in this river, which carries discharged water from the Mt Lyell copper mine near Queenstown.

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