Rio Tinto slams QLD Government over floods

Rio Tinto has criticised the Queensland Government over its lack of assistance for mines affected by the massive flooding.

The miner hit out, saying that the Government should have done more to aid the inundated mines, the ABC has reported.

In a recent submission to the Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry, it disparaged the Government’s handling of the situation, particularly the Department of Environmental and Resource Management.

Rio stated that the changes to water discharge rules after the wet season of 2008 were overly restrictive and did not factor in the effects of future cyclones or floods.

The miner said that the onslaught of Cyclones Anthony and Yasi put enormous pressure on its Bowen Basin coal mines and has left one still operating below capacity.

During the floods, Premier Bligh ruled out the blanket release of floodwaters from the state’s mines, which saw many open cut mines fill up nearly to the top.

“We will not be having a blanket permit for mines to empty highly salinated, potentially contaminated water into drinking waterways that go onto the Great Barrier Reef,” she said at the time.

As the mines filled with water, the Queensland Resources Council called on DERM and the Premier to make changes to the Environmental Protection, labelling the water discharge laws as too restrictive.

During the floods, DERM allowed for Transitional Environmental Programs (TEP) which let the miners temporarily operate outside of the environmental compliance codes until they could once more work within the relevant requirements.

After this the previous Protection Act would once more be in place.

Michael Roche said there needed to be more done to help these mines get back on track and that the environmental laws that were in place were not up to par for situations such as the recent floods.

"We do believe that there are flaws in the way the environmental authorities are framed across the Fitzroy Basin, but at the moment we are dealing with a here and now emergency," he told the ABC.

"That’s why the environmental authorities are really being set aside in favour of these transitional environmental programs."

Despite the devastating effect of the floods, the Queensland coal industry still managed to bounce back to close to two thirds of its full capacity three months after the disasters.

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