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Queenslanders will miss out on jobs from flaws in mine rehabilitation laws

Existing and approved mines in Queensland will be exempt from crucial new mine rehabilitation standards which could cost Queensland thousands of potential new jobs, according to Lock the Gate Alliance and former mining industry employees.

Exemptions buried deep in the mining rehabilitation Bill currently before Parliament[1] will give most existing and approved mines a free pass to escape several crucial mine rehabilitation controls and avoid public scrutiny of rehabilitation plans.

It seems mines like the Adani Carmichael coal mine will not be required to publicly notify their rehabilitation plans, despite planning to leave six final un-rehabilitated pit voids, some as deep as 200m, and which will drain groundwater from adjoining areas permanently.

Carmel Flint, spokesperson for Lock the Gate Alliance said:

“This mine rehabilitation legislation will be a lost opportunity to create thousands of new jobs and fix the mining industry’s mess if it goes ahead with these broad exemptions.

“These new laws are long overdue, once in a generation reforms, but if existing mines are exempt from the key provisions it will substantially undermine their effectiveness.

“We need these laws to be tough enough to stop coal mines near Ipswich offloading their responsibilities to waste companies - it’s simply not good enough for them to fill un-rehabilitated coal pits with rubbish.  

“Public scrutiny is vital, but companies like Adani look set to be allowed to leave waste dumps and six un-rehabilitated coal pits, without public notification of plans.

“Mining giants in Queensland have had a free run for far too long - all rehabilitation plans should be subject to public scrutiny, not signed off behind closed doors.

“We’re calling on the Queensland Government to take action – with the stroke of a pen they could amend these exemptions and deliver a win-win for jobs and the environment” she said.

Colin Verrall, a former coal miner of over 20 years, said:

“I’ve seen first-hand the stark failures of mine rehabilitation in Queensland.

“Mining companies are not rehabilitating their sites, and it is local communities that are being left to deal with the consequences. The long-term costs to Queensland are severe.

“If the exemptions in this Bill are not fixed, then there will be more devastation to come,” he said.

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