‘Keep your promise’, environmental group tells government
AN ENVIRONMENTAL group has called on the State Government to renew its pledge to appoint an independent mine rehabilitation commissioner as new rehabilitation laws come into effect tomorrow.
During a parliamentary debate around new rehabilitation in November last year, the State Government committed to establishing a rehabilitation commissioner within 12 months to ensure best practice standards were applied to mine rehabilitation in Queensland.
Lock the Gate Alliance is pushing government officials to remember their promise as well as tighten “loopholes” that allow mining companies to sidestep stricter requirements.
Lock the Gate mine rehabilitation co-ordinator Rick Humphries said a mine rehabilitation commissioner would ensure companies such as Adani and Clive Palmer’s Waratah Coal were required to meet recognised rehabilitation standards.
“The appointment of an independent mine rehabilitation commissioner as promised by the Queensland Government last year is crucial to complete the reform process started several years ago,” Mr Humphries said.
“Without the appointment of a commissioner, Queenslanders will continue to be left with permanently degraded landscapes and polluted waterways due to poor mine rehabilitation.”
Mr Humphries cited the Baralaba South coal project as a prime example of how companies were avoiding the new stricter requirements around rehabilitation.
“Baralaba South hasn’t even completed its initial environmental impact study, yet it applied for an environmental authority fours days before the November 1 deadline, thereby potentially allowing it to leave unrehabilitated voids on the Dawson River floodplain,” Mr Humphries said.
“The existing Baralaba Coal mine levees broke in 2010, which led to toxic waste water being washed into the river system and eventually being released into the Great Barrier Reef lagoon.”
He said improving mine rehabilitation not only protected local environments but it could also create hundreds if not thousands of jobs in regional Queensland.
“Having made a clear commitment to appoint a commissioner by November this year, the Government now needs to urgently deliver and equip the position with the powers and the resources to really hold both the industry and the regulator to account,” he said.