Xstrata denies excessive lead levels

Xstrata says its Mt Isa operations did not exceed legal lead levels during last year's December quarter.

Xstrata Mount Isa Mines does not believe that it exceeded the regulatory limit for lead concentration during the December quarter last year.

The Queensland Government said last Friday it was preparing legal action against Xstrata after one of the company’s five monitoring stations recorded an average lead level of 2.1 micrograms per cubic metre for the December quarter, which was 0.6 higher than its allowable limit.

State Minister for climate change and sustainability Kate Jones gave Xstrata until today to take steps to isolate and fix the problem.

Xstrata announced this morning that it has provided the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) with all current information relating to its investigation into the results.

Xstrata Copper North Queensland chief operating officer Steve de Kruijff said that the company has re-tested original samples at two laboratories, with results showing that the lead concentration levels did not exceed regulatory limits.

“This is the first time that the analysis of samples from one of our air quality monitors has reported levels of lead above the regulatory limit, hence our concern that the initial results may have been inaccurate,” de Kruijff said.

“Based on all available information, we do not have any grounds to believe that our Mount Isa operations have caused a breach of our regulatory limits.”

If Xstrata’s explanation for the increased levels proves inadequate the company could face fines of up to $2 million under the Environmental Protection Act.

Mt Isa’s air quality has been a prominent issue in recent years, with lawyers currently gathering medical evidence on behalf of seven Mount Isa children whose families say have suffered from high lead levels.

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