Miners in hot water over discharges

 The Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) is investigating two alleged mine water discharges

Last night the DERM’s mine operations general manager Andrew Connor announced that action will be carried out regarding 12 mines that have released water into the Fitzroy catchment, according to The Morning Bulletin.

Since last week there has reportedly been 19 separate water releases.

"Following the recent heavy rain some releases have occurred outside of their licensed conditions, however, most mines were releasing into very high volumes of water, which means there is a low risk of environmental harm," he said.

Early last year, severe flooding throughout Queensland saw many mines surpass their approved water discharge limits.

With many mines being hit by the DERM, the Queensland Resources Council (QRC) called for changes to be made to the Environmental Protection Act.

By 4 December 2010, six mines notified the Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) that they had breached environmental authority conditions. 

By 6 January 2001 this had risen to 13 coal mines and 4 coal seam gas projects in the basins.
However, this was lower than in the 2009/10 wet season when more than 20 coal mines saw unauthorised water releases caused by heavy rainfalls.

During this time, the Department provided Transitional Environmental Programs (TEP) which allowed miners to temporarily operate outside of the environmental compliance codes until they could once more work within the relevant requirements. 

But the QRC’s chief executive Michael Roche said there needed to be more done to help these mines get back on track and believed that existing environmental laws were not up to par for situations such as these floods.

"We do believe that there are flaws in the way the environmental authorities are framed across the Fitzroy Basin, but at the moment we are dealing with a here and now emergency," he said at the time.

"That’s why the environmental authorities are really being set aside in favour of these transitional environmental programs."

According to the ABC he said that these "environmental authorities as set out under the model condition for the Fitzroy Basin are unrealistically restrictive in enabling mines to adequately manage water" during heavy wet seasons.


To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.