The Queensland Government is proposing changes to the financial assurance and rehabilitation policy to improve mine remediation in the state.
Under these changes, mines will be expected to progressively rehabilitate as land becomes available for it, and their performance will be audited and publicly reported. A resource company’s financial assurance will also accurately reflect the cost to rehabilitate the amount of disturbance caused.
Speaking during a visit to Rio Tinto’s Hail Creek coal mine, south-west of Mackay, environment and heritage protection minister Steven Miles said the proposed changes would apply to new and existing mine operations.
“This policy will apply to all new mines and also be progressively applied to large operating mines, such as Hail Creek, to ensure there is a level playing field,” Miles said.
“State-wide there seems to be a growing gap between disturbed land and rehabilitation.
“We need to reverse this trend in order to better protect our communities and our environment.”
Member for Mackay Julianne Gilbert said ensuring rehabilitation happened over the life of the mine reduced the risk of mine sites being poorly rehabilitated or abandoned.
She added that regional communities would benefit from the new policy as it could generate employment in the rehabilitation services industry.
“There is close to $8 billion of rehabilitation to do in Queensland, and our regional towns are well placed to provide people and skills to do it,” Gilbert said.
These changes come after recommendations from the financial assurance review and hte state government has also released a discussion paper, “Better Mine Rehabilitation for Queensland” for public comment until June 15.