Miners to foot clean-up costs

The NT Government has come under fire for its plans to introduce a new levy on miners which is estimated to raise about $6 million a year.

The levy will help clean up legacy mines that pose an environmental risk, ABC reported.

Industry representatives have said the move heightens uncertainty and will put future mining investment in the Territory at risk.

“I think it really heightens the risk because you might have a 1 per cent levy now but what’s to stop it from growing to 2, 3 or 4 per cent?” Association of Mining and Exploration Companies, chief executive, Simon Bennison said.

NT mines minister Willem Westra van Holthe said the government doesn’t have the money to pay for the clean up of legacy mines.

“We’re just simply asking for mining companies to chip in,” he said.

“This 1 per cent levy will go directly into the remediation of legacy mine sites and into the department to provide support for developing mine management plans for those legacy issues.”

The NT opposition said the levy will not assist mining development in the region.

“It’s crazy, it’s deceitful for the industry and it is declaring to the industry that the Territory is not open for business,” NT shadow resources minister Kon Vatskalis said.

Environmentalist groups have welcomed the scheme but don’t think it will be enough to fix all the Territory’s legacy issues quickly with the clean up bill estimated to cost almost $100 million.

Australian Mining yesterday reported that the new levy had been “sprung” on miners who have been given just days to consider its affects.

One environmental legacy mine expected to be affected by the proposed levy is the Vista Gold owned Mount Todd mine which is located about 250 kilometres south of Darwin.

Vista is currently preparing to reopen the gold mine at Mt Todd, and the site is estimated to hold around 7 million ounces of gold, with a further 2 million ounces inferred.

“The Mt Todd site is an environmental legacy mine; what Vista proposes to do is to turn a problem into an opportunity,” Westra van Holthe has previously said.

Last month untreated waste water from the Mt Todd site was released into the Edith River. The US company made the discharge because a holding pond on site was close to capacity.

At the time the ABC reported the water was tainted by heavy metals including cadmium and copper, but the company said the release of two million litres of water was done in accordance with the mine licence conditions, and without the discharge the mine risked making an uncontrolled release during heavy rains.

Earlier this year the NT’s environmental watchdog reported an “uncontrolled discharge” from Mt Todd site which was the result of heavy rainfall.

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