NSW Audit Office finds taxpayers at risk of having to foot the clean-up bill for big mining companies

Published: May 11, 2017

Lock the Gate says the NSW Audit Office’s scathing report, released today, into the inadequacy of mining rehabilitation security deposits, should be a wake up call for the NSW Government.

The report has found the NSW government does not hold sufficient money in deposits to cover the cost of rehabilitation if mining companies fail to meet their responsibilities.

Rick Humphries, Lock the Gate rehabilitation campaigner said, “This report confirms fears that taxpayers could be left with a big mining clean-up bill in New South Wales if reforms are not made to ensure the coal industry pays.

“The Government must act quickly to close the gap between the amount held in security and the full cost of clean up.

“This is not a matter that can be put on the back burner. The Drayton mine in the Hunter Valley is the first big open cut to close, and its owner has just announced a plan to sell the site. If the security deposit held for that site is not sufficient to cover the cost of rehabilitation, we could be in a big dirty hole.

“We fully support the idea of an environmental rehabilitation mechanism in addition to the mine security deposits, to cover the risk that these mines will cause longer term cumulative damage that will need to be repaired.

“The NSW Chief Scientist proposed something similar years ago and the Government has neglected this problem for too long.

“The Government must resist any industry attempt to water down the findings and should adopt all the Audit Office recommendations.

“We’re calling on the government to provide a transparent and inclusive process to craft the necessary legislative and regulatory reforms and ensure they are fully implemented” he said.

The Audit Office report is available here: http://www.audit.nsw.gov.au/publications/latest-reports/mining-rehabilitation-security-deposits

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