Clean up old mine sites 15,000 in Qld

JOHN McCARTHY, The Sunday Mail (Qld)

June 12, 2016 12:00am

A NEW growth industry in the state could be cleaning up the mess left from a once booming industry now in decline.

Activist and Lock the Gate president Drew Hutton said thousands of jobs could be created in rehabilitating more than 400 abandoned mines in Queensland that could pose an environmental threat.

The problem is getting someone to pay for it.

In 2012, the Queensland Commission of Audit estimated that a clean-up of Queensland’s 15,000 abandoned mines would cost $1 billion. About 12,000 of these mines are on private land.

The issue gained ­attention when Linc Energy collapsed leaving a clean-up headache for its underground coal gasification site near Chinchilla on the Darling Downs.

Mr Hutton said he had public support with a poll from Lock the Gate and the Australia Institute showing the community was strongly behind the push for companies to clean up mines, many now vast pits of saline water.

The poll found more than three-quarters (77 per cent) of 437 respondents said that mine sites should be fully rehabilitated “close to previous natural or farming condition’’. Another 11 per cent said partial rehabilitation was preferable, with “pits partially refilled and water pollution minimised’’.

The Australia Institute’s Rod Campbell said most Australians don’t want miners to leave behind holes full of toxic water, yet this was government policy in Queensland, NSW and Victoria.

“People don’t think it’s fair that companies dig up profits for overseas shareholders during the good times, then leave the community to clean up after them,’’ Mr Campbell said.

“State governments approved these mines and took on the responsibility to regulate them. In the post-mining boom, they need to ensure that the companies which profited are made to clean-up.’’

Mr Hutton said he visited the abandoned Mary Kathleen uranium mine, near Mount Isa, where tailings dams are leaking more than 30 years after the mine closed.

“There is radioactive waste but there is also heavy metals and salt. You can go to the nearby Cameron River and it’s disgusting. Cattle will not go anywhere near it and it got a prize for rehabilitation in 1986,’’ he said.

About 15,000 mines have been abandoned in Queensland and Mr Hutton said between 400 and 500 were a concern. “It would be a massive job creator but it depends on money and, at the moment, only $6 million has been allocated to the clean-up and most of that goes to Mt Morgan.’’

Muswellbrook Coal Mine

Muswellbrook Coal Mine


Linc Energy Former CEO issued with Environmental Protection Order

May 26th

The Courier Mail reports….

Fantastic News ….lets hope this is the first of many actions to rehabilitate the damage done by Linc Energy and underground coal gasification.

Linc Energy: Former chief executive Peter Bond issued with Environmental Protection Order

The Courier-Mail

AN Environmental Protection Order has been issued to former Linc Energy chief executive Peter Bond under Queensland’s new Chain of Responsibility laws.

The environment department issued the order Wednesday night.

This EPO requires Mr Bond to take steps to decommission most of the site’s dams and take steps in relation to the rehabilitation of contaminated soils that remain on site, a statement from Environment Minister Steven Miles reads.

Linc Energy’s dams have been a source of odour to the surrounding community.

The EPO also requires the provision of a bank guarantee to secure compliance with it. Review and appeal rights are available under the law.

This EPO is in addition to an EPO the Department issued to Linc Energy on 13 May 2016, which remains in effect even though Linc Energy is in liquidation.

It is in addition to the prosecution that is already underway.

Environment Minister Dr Steven Miles said it was the first time the new powers had been used.

“The stronger environmental laws give Queensland’s environment regulator additional powers to ensure the former Linc Energy site is rehabilitated,’’ Dr Miles said.

“Decommissioning the dams is a crucial part of the long-term strategy regarding odour sources, and is a necessary rehabilitation step,” he said.

Linc Energy 2011

Linc Energy 2011

Queensland Government bans Underground Coal gasification

Karen Auty from Chinchilla raises some pertinent questions.

Linc Energy