Miner fined for zinc spill

MMG has been fined more than $40 000 for its zinc spill in 2009.

In October 2009, it suffered a zinc spill from a pipeline which transports slurry concentrates.

The failure in the pipeline, which transfers slurry from mine operations at Lawn Hill to the dewatering and port facilities at Karumba on the Gulf of Carpentaria, occurred at approximately the 115 kilometre point of the 304 kilometre pipeline.

Around 300 tonnes of zinc slurry, which consisted of about 160 tonnes of zinc metal, poured out of the pipeline.

Despite pumping being stopped upon discovery of the failure, there was still a discharge of zinc concentrate slurry at the area.

Following an initial investigation, Queensland’s Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) said there was no danger to waterways or drainage areas from the spill.

"DERM is satisfied that the mine has so far taken appropriate measures to mitigate the impact of the incident,” DERM northern regional services director Rob Lawrence told Australian Mining at the time.

The miner has now been fined for this incident.

It pled guilty to once charge of unlawfully causing material environmental harm, the Brisbane Times reported.

According to the QLD Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, after the spill "the company immediately erected fencing following the discharge to protect grazing cattle and has spent almost $10 million on incident response and remediation, including replacing contaminated soil with clean fill".

MMG was ordered to pay $5000 for investigation costs, and $40 000 to an environmental project.

This is not the first time the miner has faced court over environmental charges.

In 2010 it was under fire for ‘hazardous waste water management".

It was alleged that the zinc mine discharged waste water into Page Creek during the heavy wet season in January 2008.

As a result of this MMG Century faced a potential maximum penalty of $832 500 for each charge.

Speaking to Australian Mining, MMG Stakeholder Relations Manager Matt Foran stated that while MMG was unable to comment on the charges, it was one of a number of companies that was effected during the heavy wet season and at the time had spent $350 000 in its clean up process and has committed a further $8 million towards corrective improvements of its water management system.

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