Mine rehabilitation project makes positive strides in Queensland

A resources company case study project to rehabilitate former mining land in Queensland has shown the potential for positive environmental outcomes.

Glencore is progressively rehabilitating its Newlands coal mine in central Queensland, with 73 hectares of land at the mine so far meeting the environmental regulator’s ‘progressive rehabilitation’ expectations.

Glencore Coal’s Queensland environment and community manager Pieter Swart said the rehabilitation was a key step for both the company and the community.

“We maintain a very strong focus on progressive rehabilitation across all our coal mining operations, with each site required to achieve annual targets that go beyond regulatory requirements,” he said.

“In the past five years (2012-2016), 53 per cent of land disturbed by Glencore’s coal operations in Queensland over that period has been rehabilitated, with a 2017 target to rehabilitate more land than our mines will disturb.”

The land and its certification was part of a Rehabilitation Case Studies project managed by the Environment Department in conjunction with the Queensland Resources Council (QRC) and was supported by Glencore and other participating resource companies.

Queensland environment minister Steven Miles said the project aimed to increase the uptake of rehabilitation certification by resource companies and improve environmental outcomes when mining operations cease.

“The land Glencore has rehabilitated is considered safe, stable and self sustaining; which are the overarching goals for rehabilitated mining land,” he said.

“Glencore’s progressive rehabilitation certification is a welcome milestone and I look forward to other mining companies following suit and applying to EHP for certification of successful rehabilitation.”

Miles added that Glencore’s certification was the third area to be certified since 2006, when the progressive rehabilitation framework was introduced to the Environmental Protection Act 1994.

There are now 631 hectares of certified progressively rehabilitated mining land in Queensland.

In 2012, 507 hectares of Rio Tinto’s Kestrel coal mine was certified and in 2015, 51.5 hectares of Great Northern Mining’s sapphire mine also received certification.