Mining's Toxic Legacy

Published: May 06, 2016


Make a short submission to the Federal Inquiry into the failures of mine rehabilitation in Australia.

The Senate Environment and Communications Committee is conducting an Inquiry into the Rehabilitation of Mining and Resource Projects.

This is an important opportunity to expose the damage that has been caused by big mining in Australia.

The legacy they have left us is toxic waste, polluted waterways and ruined landscapes.

Full details of the Senate Inquiry, including the Terms of Reference, are available here.

Make a submission to the Senate Inquiry. 

We have prepared a briefing note with more background information and key points that you might want to make in a submission here.

Background Information

Currently there are some 50,000 abandoned mines across the country.

The companies have simply walked away and left the sites un-rehabilitated.

Some of the mines that have been abandoned are huge and the cost of repairing the land and water resources will run into billions of dollars.

The NSW and Queensland Governments are currently approving some of the most enormous coal mines Australia has ever seen.

The incredible scale of those mega-mines requires tougher rehabilitation requirements to ensure the Australian public isn’t left with the damage.

Sign our petition to hold big mining to account for the costs of rehabilitation.

Rehab2-Minow.jpgCompounding the problem is an increasing number of companies are declaring bankruptcy before they clean up the mess meaning State Governments and the taxpayer are now responsible for rehabilitation. Other companies are shutting down their mines, sacking working and placing these operations under permanent care and maintenance to avoid investing in rehabilitation. The larger companies such as Rio Tinto, BHPB and Anglo American, having made billions of dollars profit are now trying to sell their older mines to smaller companies who have little capacity to spend the hundreds of millions of dollars necessary to rehabilitate these mines.




Mining companies set aside funds on their balance sheet to pay for closing and rehabilitating mines. Failure to set aside adequate funds can expose the public to significant risk if the companies cannot afford to fully rehabilitate the mine. Equally shareholders can be impacted if management under estimate the cost of rehabilitation given the cost of closing mines frequently costs hundreds of millions and in some cases over a billion dollars. Investors, regulators and the public all have an interest in making sure companies have the resources set aside to complete mine rehabilitation. This report “Mine Rehabilitation and Closure Cost – A Hidden Liability” documents five case studies which suggests mining companies frequently under estimate the cost of closure. Read the Report - Mine rehabilitation and closure cost

The mining industry would have us believe they invest in progressive rehabilitation during the life of a mine in order to reduce the risk and cost of closing and rehabilitating the site. However an analysis of four large multi-national mining company sustainability and annual reports suggests otherwise. There is a huge gap between the rhetoric and the reality around progressive rehabilitation rates. Read the Report - Rhetoric vs Reality - a performance snap shot


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