Lock the Gate Alliance has slammed a recommendation by the Queensland Coordinator General to allow the Olive Downs coal project to leave three un-rehabilitated pit voids on the Isaac River flood plain after the mine closes.
The decision is completely at odds with the mine rehabilitation reforms passed by the Qld Government last year, which promised to ban final voids on floodplains.
“The decision to let Olive Downs leave three un-rehabilitated pit voids on the Isaac River floodplain is a ticking time bomb that represents a real long-term threat to the river and downstream users” said Rick Humphries, Mine Rehabilitation Coordinator with Lock the Gate Alliance.
“It completely undermines a key element of the Qld Government rehabilitation reforms which promised to stop mining giants leaving behind contaminated hypersaline pit lakes on floodplains because the environmental risks to our precious rivers are too great.
“We’re incredibly disappointed that the Queensland Government has failed the first crucial test of its new mine rehabilitation laws. The Coordinator General had the option to require the Olive Downs project to fully protect the floodplain by requiring the pits were backfilled.
“Instead the Coordinator General has backed the company against the interests of the Queensland taxpayers who will bear the long-term environmental cost of the un-rehabilitated voids,” he said.
“Every dollar not spent by the mining industry to fix up their mess is a dollar cost to the taxpayer in the form of environmental risk and loss of the value of the un-rehabilitated land. If a mining project can’t afford to return the mined land to a fully rehabilitated state that supports a post-mining land use then it should be rejected.
“Mining companies must bear the full cost of rehabilitation, not the taxpayer.
“We’re calling for the Qld Government to urgently reconsider this decision, and to require the Olive Downs mine to fully backfill and rehabilitate all pit voids consistent with the Government’s new rehabilitation policy."