The Palaszczuk government has allowed mining companies to reduce by 10 per cent the financial assurances they pay to the state to cover rehabilitation of mine sites.
Lock the Gate Alliance President, Drew Hutton said that, as of October this year, companies no longer had to pay the GST component when they lodged a financial assurance (FA). Companies that had already lodged their FA could request a 10 per cent refund.
See details of the government’s GST reduction here.
Mr Hutton said this was “an outrageous move” by the Palaszczuk government that was putting enormous faith in mining companies to do the right thing.
“Mining companies have proven countless times in Queensland that they can’t be trusted to properly rehabilitate mine sites and state governments over the decades have allowed them to get away with that,” he said.
"The government should be substantially increasing the amounts paid in financial assurances by mining companies to cover the costs of rehabilitation, not decreasing them.
“The government should also be closing off loop-holes that allow miners to escape their environmental and financial responsibilities.”
Mr Hutton said experts had publicly expressed opinions that the financial assurances were already well below what would be needed to cover the expenses involved in rehabilitation.
For example, Dr Peter Erskine from the Sustainable Minerals Institute at the University of Queensland had expressed the view that the total cost of rehabilitating all Queensland mines would be between three and 10 times the $5.3 billion held by the government, he said.
The Queensland Auditor-General made the same point in his 2014 report.
"As has been noted many times, including by the Auditor-General, most mines do not do progressive rehabilitation, they don't fill in final voids and there is very little monitoring by the Environment Department to ensure the companies complied with standards,” he said.
"This means the taxpayer could be left to pay tens of billions of dollars to rehabilitate these mines or they are left in an incomplete or non-existent state of rehabilitation to potentially pollute the surrounding countryside.
"In the face of this appalling state of affairs the Queensland Government has made the puzzling decision to reduce the amount of financial assurances held.