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308,000 footy fields worth of unrehabilitated mined land in Queensland, and it’s growing

A long awaited report reveals that the area of unrehabilitated mined land in Queensland has grown even larger, nearly four and a half years after laws were passed to supposedly improve the situation. 

The recently released Queensland Mine Rehabilitation Commission’s report shows the situation is getting worse, not better.  

It concludes that “there has been consistent growth in the industry’s overall liability of rehabilitation yet to be carried out across the mining sector” (p16).

The report reveals that:

  • The area of unrehabilitated land from “large-scale mining operations” has actually increased by 23,825 hectares since new rehabilitation laws were passed (p17).

  • As a result, the total area of unrehabilitated land has reached a total of 215,555 hectares, which is equivalent to 308,000 footy fields or the area of a small country like Mauritius (p17).

  • Historically, just 27% of the area of all large mines and 22% of all coal mines have been rehabilitated (p18).

Lock the Gate says this shows the laws passed in 2018 have demonstrably failed to address the problem with mine rehabilitation in Queensland, likely due to last minute changes made at the behest of the mining sector.

“This report reveals both a woeful failure of the mining sector to clean up after itself and dire regulatory failure by the Queensland Palaszczuk Government,” said Lock the Gate Alliance Queensland spokesperson Ellie Smith.

“The commissioner’s report shows mining companies are wrecking more land than they're fixing and now an area equivalent to about 308,000 footy fields is unrehabilitated.

“It is Queensland communities who pay the price, in the form of polluted water and damaged land, as well as missed economic and job opportunities in rehabilitation.

“The coal mining sector has made windfall profits this year but couldn’t even do the decent thing and sink a tiny fraction of those billions into cleaning up their own mess.

“While mining companies and the coal lobby have been hand-wringing about a minor increase in coal royalties, they’ve been busy rorting the system to avoid their most basic responsibilities.

“We applaud the Commissioner for exposing this problem, and are now calling for an urgent crack down on companies who shirk their rehabilitation responsibilities. We need beefed up laws and a compliance blitz so that Queenslanders don’t end up footing the bill for mining neglect.”


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