Rio facing spill prosecution

Rio Tinto’s Gove mine is to face court over petrol leakages last year.

The miner reportedly leaked around 70 000 litres of unleaded fuel from an old tank on site in June last year, according to the ABC.

The fuel leaked into the soil surrounding the tank.

The Northern Territory Department of Resources announced this week that it will prosecute Rio Tinto over the environmental accident.

Despite lodging the papers with Darwin’s Magistrates Court, it would not disclose what charges the miner will be facing.

After the leakage was initially reported, Northern Territory Resources minister Kon Vatskalis said mine regulations needed an overhaul.

This was reinforced by the recent spills at the Port of Darwin in May, where 1000 litres of copper concentrate slurry had spilled across the road.

At the time, the port was already under investigation for another copper concentrate spill in 2010 that was estimated at around 20 tonnes.

Current acting chief executive of the Port, Terry O’Connor, said that this contamination was “embarrassing” but “has no relation to the current event before the court.”

BHP Billiton’s subsidiary GEMCO was also under investigation for an accidental spill of two tonnes of manganese iron into its nearby port, and then failed to report the incident to the relevant environmental authorities.

The Northern Territory environment minister Karl Hampton sent inspectors to the site, declaring that he has expressed his anger to GEMCO over the fact it was not reported, adding that fines for polluters would be doubled following this incident.

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