Pits and pollution: massive loophole in mine rehabilitation laws

Published: April 27, 2018

Lock the Gate is today calling on the Queensland Parliament to urgently fix a massive loophole in legislation that will allow mining giants to leave massive holes in the ground, mountains of waste and contaminated tailings dams.

Prior to the state election, Queensland Labor promised that if they were elected, they would ‘ensure that all mined land would be fully rehabilitated’, but the laws currently before the parliament will not be able to deliver on that promise.

The proposed laws - titled the Mineral and Energy Resources (Financial Provisioning) Bill 2018 - contain a massive loophole for mining companies allowing them to leave land unrehabilitated if they argue the costs are too high and the impacts will be ‘localised’.

The proposed Colton coal mine, south of Hervey Bay, is an example of the severe risks of un-rehabilitated mines, with New Hope planning to leave an unrehabilitated final void which will be 111 hectares in size.

Lock the Gate spokesperson, Rick Humphries, said:

“To just give you an idea of the sheer size of the void at Colton, 111 hectares is the equivalent to about 1,000 suburban house blocks.

“That large pit will be left as a dangerous hazard sitting 10km away from the globally significant Sandy Straits, forever. If the legislation is not changed the Colton Mine will never be back-filled or fully rehabilitated.

“If the government fails to address the loophole in the legislation, this will not only impact the environment, it will be fore-going the opportunity to create jobs - lots of jobs particularly in the coal fields of Central Queensland. Ensuring mines are fully rehabilitated to best practice standards requires significant additional investment and a big boost in employment.  

“The Government can use it’s majority to close the loophole and in doing so create thousands of jobs by ensuring the mining industry fulfills its obligations to protect the environment. It’s potentially a big win-win for Queensland.”

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