Bligh rules out blanket emptying of flooded mines

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has ruled out a blanket release of floodwaters inside the state’s mines.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has ruled out a blanket release of floodwaters inside the state’s mines.

The Queensland Government said it is working with mining companies to find the best way to release the waters which have rendered numerous mines unworkable.

The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) said yesterday about a dozen mines remain closed and a further 30 are operating below capacity.

Miners have been calling for permission to empty mines into waterways, ahead of Cyclone Yasi, which is expected to hit the tropical coast by Thursday as a result of the flooding.

“We’re talking about mine dams that simply overflow, mine pits where the water might flow across the countryside and perhaps into local creeks,” Michael Roche, QRC chief executive said.

"We would much rather undertake controlled releases where we know what quality of water is going into the local environment and which won’t do long-term damage to the environment."

The Premier said they must consider the environment when making decisions about removing floodwaters.

“We will not be having a blanket permit for mines to empty highly salinated, potentially contaminated water into drinking waterways that go onto the Great Barrier Reef,” she said.

The flooded mines are not the only problem for the mining industry, with the closure of Australia’s biggest shipping ports at Hay Point and Abbot Point closed, along with two at Townsville and Mackay.

Roche said the disruptions have come at a difficult time for miners, who are only beginning to recover from flood losses.

“These are ports which in total produce exports or 140 million tonnes of coal every year,” he said.

“Every day that’s out of action is the best part of a million tonnes of coal that we are just simply not getting to market, and that’s a disruption we don’t welcome.”

Roche said rain associated with ex-Tropical Cyclone Anthony and the potential for a second cyclone, presents problems for the coal industry.

"The bigger disruption facing coal mines is the amount of water they’re holding already," he said.

"With two cyclones bearing down on Queensland and with so many coal mines already full of water, we really need the Queensland Government to lift the current restrictions on releases of water from coal mines."

He said some coal ports in the state could remain closed for weeks as the bad weather continues.

Ports will remain closed until all cyclone threats have passed.

"It could be at least a couple of weeks if it turns out that the second cyclone is in fact heading broadly in that same central to north Queensland zone,"  Roche said.

"We’re still looking for more details on that, but that’s the sort of disruption we’ll have to deal with."

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