Repairing the environmental damage of just 300 of Queensland’s 15,000 abandoned mines could cost around $10 billion, according to a report from the Lock the Gate Alliance released today.
The Report – Abandoned Mines in Queensland: Toxic Time-bomb or Employment Opportunity? – argues that big mining companies should be made to cover the cost of rehabilitating the State’s abandoned mines and that this would generate 6000 jobs in regional Queensland.
Lock the Gate spokesperson Rick Humphries said the state’s current Abandoned Mines Land Program is completely overwhelmed and underfunded.
“The state government’s current efforts to rehabilitate abandoned mines aren’t even putting a dent in the industry’s toxic legacy.”
The current program is focused on addressing about 10 sites, a tiny fraction of the 15,000 abandoned sites. The Abandoned Mines Land Program is funded at $6 million per year with an additional $40 million scheduled over the next 5 years.
“The funding and scope of the government’s abandoned mines program fall far short of addressing this multi-billion dollar problem, which requires a significant, sustained funding effort that should be funded by the mining industry.
“Historically the mining industry has simply washed its hands of the problem and has not been exercising any leadership whatsoever.
“Big mining companies are doing their level best to shunt the multi-billion dollar cost of this toxic legacy onto the taxpayer.
“The Queensland Government has acknowledged that it has not collected enough money from mining companies to cover the cost of properly rehabilitating current mines once they shut down. The government’s own figures show taxpayers are being exposed to a multi-billion dollar shortfall.”
“The Government needs to reform the system and require that the assurance is held as a cash bond not a bank guarantee. This is a key feature of the new financial assurance system as the interest from these cash bonds held in a government managed account would then be invested in repairing the most polluting abandoned mines.”
“This is one issue where environmental protection creates jobs where they are most needed, in regional Queensland.”
“Our proposal presents the Palaszczuk Government with a three for the price of one opportunity, fix the current broken financial assurance system, start to address the mining industry’s appalling toxic legacy and create around 6000 badly needed jobs in regional and remote Queensland,” he concluded.