QLD Government boost to abandoned mine safety

The QLD Government will commit $42 million in the 2016-17 State Budget to manage public safety risks related to abandoned mine sites throughout the state.

Natural resources and mines minister Anthony Lynham said the added funding over five years will significantly boost the Department of Natural Resources and Mines program that works on these abandoned sites.

He said the program has been managing these abandoned mine safety risks with an annual budget of $6 million.

The increased investment will enable the program to further enhance its efforts in public safety such as treating water impounded in mine sites and filling abandoned mine shafts.

Its main priorities include managing impacts from major abandoned mine sites, managing responses relating to subsidence issues at Collingwood Park, and delivering mine shaft repair programs in the historic gold mining towns of Gympie and Charters Towers. It also aims to undertake progressive assessment and close-out of public safety risks at smaller mine sites, and provide an emergency first response for newly reported issues on these sites.

There are more than 15,000 abandoned mine sites identified across QLD, with approximately 3500 of those on state-owned land. Although most of those are small, several hundred are medium to large that had been involved in significant mineral processing and smelting operations.

The largest abandoned mine site was the former Mount Morgan gold mine, 32km south west of Rockhampton, which is now owned by Carbine Resources.

The State Parliament passed legislation in April this year to give QLD’s Department of Environmental and Heritage Protection greater powers to pursue individuals, companies, and entities, who failed to uphold their environmental responsibilities.

The Environmental Protection (Chain of Responsibility) Amendment Bill highlighted the government’s crackdown on poor environmental performers, with an Environmental Protection Order (EPO) already given to former chief executive of troubled UCG company Linc Energy Peter Bond to ensure the company met their environmental obligations.

Environment minister Steven Miles said, “Between these new funds and the recently passed new environmental protection laws the Palaszczuck government has a comprehensive plan to manage existing abandoned mines and avoid the number of mines increasing.”

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