Queensland’s flooded coal mines still impacting economy

Three quarters of Queensland’s mines are still filled with water.

Queensland Resources Council chief Michael Roche told the Surat Basin Coal and Energy conference that the floods were still affecting the mining industry, the Daily Mercury has reported.

While the mining industry in the State has managed to come back to two thirds of its full capacity, Roche said that 75% of mines are still inundated.

“I flew over the mines recently and there was activity, but still pit after pit was filled with water.

“Basically what the mines are doing is moving water around on site, from pit to pit,” he said.

According to Michael Roche, in February 2011, the State exported eight million tonnes of coal compared to 12 million tonnes in February 2010.

“This is only one month’s worth of exports, but the numbers are consistent with company reports and the QRC’s own estimates of a 30 million down turn in coal production,” Roche said.

However, he told the conference that “we think now it will be somewhere between 30 and 53, perhaps around the 40 million mark; that is the equivalent of wiping out all of the economic growth in Queensland for 2009/10.”

He went on to say that while the government will need a lot of funding to pay for the reconstruction of Queensland, it is hampering the restoration of one of its major potential sources of funding.

Describing the last wet season as disastrous for coal mining in the State, Roche said that miners can only look towards preparing for the next wet season, and dealing with the high levels of water already on site.

“What the companies are telling me is the single largest problem they have is that under the new water discharge conditions, which came into force in 2009, they were not able to deal with the build-up of water on their sites in 2008/09, therefore, not able to get ready for the wet season we have just come through.

“Many mines went into this wet season with substantial quantities of water and then this wet season has just played havoc with so many of them.

Cockatoo Coal’s Baralaba open cut pit saw masses of water flood into it at the start of the year, as did many other open cut mines in central Queensland.

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.