Mining industry success in weakening mine rehabilitation laws this week will cost Queenslanders dearly, according to Lock the Gate Alliance.
Communities will be left with vast unfilled coal pits and polluted water after mining, and will miss out on the new jobs and investment that mine rehabilitation brings.
“The mining industry has strong-armed the Queensland Government to allow existing mines off the hook from properly cleaning up their mine sites” said Rick Humphries, Coordinator of Lock the Gate’s Mine rehabilitation Reform Campaign
“Mining giants will make fat profits for overseas shareholders and then leave regional communities to live with the mess in perpetuity.
“The mining industry already plans to leave 218 coal pits un-rehabilitated, many of which will drain groundwater permanently and will leave vast, deep scars on the landscape.
“We pushed the Government hard to phase in similar laws that have been in place in the US since the 1970s requiring all pits to be backfilled.”
“Instead, this back down from the Government will not only impact the environment, it will cost jobs and investment in regional Queensland.”
“The Queensland Resources Council is playing Queenslanders for mugs - expecting us to live with their toxic legacies permanently and squibbing on the rehabilitation jobs and investment that would flow from back-filling."
Recent polling in the electorates of Herbert, Capricornia and Dawson revealed a massive 91% of voters wanted mining companies to backfill the coal pits.
Lock the Gate welcomed other aspects of the legal reforms, including improvements to mine planning and reporting and the application of binding targets for progressive rehabilitation.
The community group also welcomed today’s announcement by Deputy Premier Jackie Trad committing the Government to considering the establishment of a Mine Rehabilitation Commissioner.
“We strongly support a Commissioner being appointed, and we sincerely hope the Government follows through on this initiative. This is a glimmer of hope. The Commissioner must have the power to protect the interests of Queenslanders over that of mine shareholders,” Mr Humphries said.
“The Commissioner must have the legislative grunt to ensure the industry is delivering best practice mine rehabilitation at all mine sites.
“If the Government delivers on a Commissioner it would provide an opportunity to drive increased investment and job creation from improved mine rehabilitation in Queensland.”