Mine regulations relaxed ahead of QLD storm season

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Environmental regulations have been relaxed to help Queensland miners prepare for more difficulties this wet season.

The previous summer’s natural disasters wiped $7 million off coal production last year and many mines hit by flooding are still struggling to recover.

To prevent flooding coalmines in Queensland usually seek to discharge water from storage dams into flowing streams.

But in the lead-up to the previous wet season rivers were not flowing and regulations prohibited miners from discharging any water.

Release conditions have now been revised ahead of the new storm season to make it easier for mines to offload extra water.

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche told AAP the relaxed conditions would make it easier for mines to “handle what’s thrown at them in the upcoming wet season”.

But he said while they were a good start, the changes did not go far enough.

Many environmental experts are opposed to using streams to discharge water, and voiced their concerns at the Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry yesterday.

University of New South Wales consultant mining engineer David Lawrence said emptying water into streams raised posed salt and solid content risks to water quality.

He said the impacts on downstream aquatic life from mine water discharge were “potentially severe”.

Environmental experts claim there are more environmentally friendly options available to miners seeking to offload extra water.

But Roche said while some mines were trialling water treatment technologies the methods were “very expensive”.

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