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Lock the Gate urges tough penalties after BHP pollutes Central Queensland creeks

Lock the Gate Alliance is calling on the Queensland Government to prosecute BHP to the full extent of the law, after it was revealed the mining giant likely polluted creeks surrounding its Saraji coal mine in Central Queensland.

The Department of Environment and Science is investigating after the company allowed the release of sediment from its Saraji mine into the surrounding Isaac River Sub-basin in late 2017.

The department is alleging the discharge could “could potentially adversely affect the… environmental values of Hughes Creek, One Mile Creek, Spring Creek and Phillips Creek”.

Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson Carmel Flint said the spill was disappointing, but not surprising.

“Yet again, landholders and the environment are the victims of BHP mismanagement” she said.

"It is utterly unacceptable that a mining company's incompetence has led to polluted mine water and sediments being discharged into creek systems on a number of occasions.  This should not be occurring.

"It is even more galling given the surrounding country has experienced severe drought and heat waves, and draws further attention to the mismanagement of water systems by both state and federal governments.

"Unfortunately, this is not an unusual occurrence for mining companies, and Lock the Gate calls on the Queensland Government to prosecute BHP to the full extent of the law.

“Regulation is too lax and too dependent on self-reporting by mining companies.

"This incident is also a major concern because BHP has one of the worst records on mine rehabilitation, having only rehabilitated 10% of the area it has disturbed for mining in Queensland.  That means vast areas of disturbed land are open to run-off into our creeks and rivers, when they should have been properly rehabilitated and revegetated.

"There's a massive long-term risk brewing because of the failures of mine rehabilitation and the risks that poses to water resources.

"It's clear that environmental conditions are inadequate, and the Bioregional Assessment released for the Galilee Basin has indicated that the cumulative impacts on water resources from coal mining are likely to be far greater than predicted for individual mines.

"We need a complete overhaul of Queensland laws to prioritise protection of water resources above mining and that can start with ensuring that the Adani coal mine is not granted the groundwater management plan that it is seeking to enable it to start construction."

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