Four coal mines in the Fitrozy Basin have released stored mine water as heavy rains inundate central Queensland.
The releases are the first in a pilot program of controlled mine water releases.
It comes as the state releases a report examining the impact of previous floods, outlining that mines in the central Queensland region were not ready for the event.
QLD minister for environment and heritage protection, Andrew Powell, explained that the deluge from cyclone Oswald had provided enough stream flow for BMA mines to release their water.
“This is the first release from BMA mines since the Government announced the pilot program in November 2012,” Powell said.
“All four mines participating in the pilot, Goonyella Riverside, Peak Downs, Norwich Park and Saraji have now commenced releases in accordance with their environmental authorities, with releases beginning at 5am this morning.
“The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection has been advised of these releases and is monitoring them closely.
“Currently all data suggests that the water quality in Rockhampton is well and truly within acceptable levels.”
Despite concerns in the community Powell stated that mines regularly release water.
“Mines were authorised to release water on a regular basis long before we announced this pilot,” Powell said.
“A mine’s ability to release water has always been dependent on water flows and whether they are able to meet strict environmental and water quality standards.
“That has been standard practice for many years including under the previous Labor government.
“For example following heavy rainfall early in March last year 19 coal mines released water into the Fitzroy catchment.
“This pilot is being closely monitored and regulated, with the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection keeping a close watch on discharges from other coal mines and monitoring the cumulative impact on the river.”