The Queensland government has taken emergency steps to prevent a mine storage spill affecting the Murray Darling Basin.
Heavy rain during the week threatened a processing dams and ponds spill at the state’s Texas silver mine, the ABC reports, which holds nearly 240 million litres of by products including iron, aluminium, nickel and zinc.
The state’s Environment Department is currently responsible for the site – whose storage dam sit on the border of NSW and QLD – which was abandoned by its previous owners last year.
Rehabilitation costs could be up to $10 million, however the government only holds $2 million in financial assurances from the prior owners for the site.
It is understood that as little as 40mm of rain could cause a spill, releasing the heavy metals into the Dumaresq River – a key irrigation source for the region – and into the Murray Darling Basin, yet over the last two days the site has received more than 90mm of rain, with the Department’s staff and contractors having to dewater the mine to decrease the overfill.
Environment minister Steven Miles said they sent their staff to the site “as soon as this weather event became clear”, sending extra officers on Wednesday to monitor the situation.
“[The department] had been liaising with its counterparts in New South Wales about site management, and will continue to consult with them about any possible environmental impacts. I want to stress that this is a problem [the department] inherited,” he said.