Lock the Gate has hit back at the Queensland Resources Council (QRC) over claims made in The Australian this morning that thousands of jobs and investment could be at risk under proposed changes to the Mineral and Energy Resources Bill.
Contrary to the criticisms put forward by the QRC, Lock the Gate estimates more than 4,000 new jobs could be generated if mining companies were forced to clean up their own mess and fully rehabilitate mine sites after they close.
The bill put forward by Queensland Treasurer Jackie Trad proposes significant reforms to the sector’s rehabilitation practices but leaves loopholes that could undermine the entire legislation including an exemption for all existing mines.
Lock the Gate campaigner and mine rehabilitation expert, Rick Humphries said the QRC’s criticisms of the bill “simply don’t stack up”.
“Better rehabilitation means more earthworks, more bulldozers and more people to drive and maintain them. That’s more jobs and investment in Regional Queensland.
“The QRC’s resistance to improving mine rehabilitation is completely out of touch with public opinion. They are eroding their social licence.”
Recent polling in the marginal north and central Queensland electorates of Herbert, Capricornia and Dawson reveal an astounding 91% of voters want mining companies to back-fill the massive coal pits they leave behind at the end of a mines life.
“The QRC claims the cost of fixing up the existing mess left by the industry is $20 billion. Well it follows that if the industry isn’t forced to fully rehabilitate existing mines then this cost will be passed onto the Queensland taxpayer and future generations of Queenslanders.
Lock the Gate is calling for further changes to be made to the bill which will fix a current loophole that allows existing mines to leave behind pit voids, waste rock and water dumps.
“The amendments we are calling for will make a huge difference for Queensland and ensure taxpayers are not left with the clean-up bill when miners decide to abandon their responsibility.
“Whatever the cost of fixing up the mess is, the industry should pay for it and Regional Queensland will benefit in terms of the additional billions in jobs and investment,” he said.