Sand miner cleared of illegal activities

Sand miner Sibelco have been found not guilty of illegal sand extraction on Stradbroke Island.

After five and a half years under prosecution by the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage, as well as protesting by the indigenous people of Stradbroke Island and anti-mining protesters, the Belgian miner will be able to continue extraction until at least 2019, ABC reported.

Sibelco were granted extensions to 2035 by the Newman government, however the Palaszczuk government have pledged to wind back the mining lease.

A spokesperson for Sibelco welcomed the ruling, and stated that the decision affirmed Sibelco as a responsible corporate citizen with a commitment to environmental sustainability.

"The decision supports Sibelco's position that all activities were in accordance with Government regulations,” he said.

"For the whole period B-grade sand was being extracted, the Government accepted royalties having full knowledge of the operation."

In 2010 a court of appeal found that the payment of royalties was irrelevant in determining whether the company had broken the law.

Charges were originally brought against the company, then called Unimin, in 2009 after Environment Department raids on the company offices with suspicion that the company had been selling low grade sand for landscaping and construction.

Indigenous campaigner Dale Riska described the ruling as “an outrageous failure of justice”.

"It's an absolute disgrace that the company can get away with committing such a grand theft over such a long period of time," he said.

On top of the two charges cleared, a third charge relating to forestry operations was dismissed as the department was one day late in commencing prosecution.

In 2012 Sibelco controversially donated $90,000 to the state Liberal party to support the successful Newman campaign.

Last year SIbelco announced it would close the Yarraman mine in August 2015, in line with expected timelines.

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