State stands up to pressure from mines over stored water

THE state government says it will continue to protect water quality in the Fitzroy basin despite mounting pressure from mining companies wanting to discharge more water.

At an estimates meeting last Friday, the minister for Environment and Heritage Protection Andrew Powell revealed he had been approached by mining companies wanting approval to discharge, on a daily basis.

"Water in mines is an issue that has been raised consistently. I have mining companies coming to my office, to my director-general's office and to my staff on a daily basis around a number of conditions but particularly around the conditions imposed upon them in terms of discharging of water from the mines," he said.

He said flooding rains over the past few years had resulted in some mines having their production affected by more than 280,000 megalitres of water retained in various mine sites around the state.

That figure is equivalent to half the capacity of Sydney harbour.

"There are 16 coalmines with some 280,000 megalitres of water in total that is preventing them from operating at their full capacity," he said.

"This so-called legacy water is a cost to industry in lost revenue to the state. A responsible government like this one will explore ways to optimise the controlled release of this water whilst, and I stress 'whilst', ensuring that the local waterways and public health and safety are not put at risk."

Mr Powell said the most recent figures on water discharge showed that, since February, 6.7 million megalitres of water had flowed past Rockhampton and only 33,500 megalitres of this total was sourced from coalmine releases.

"In short, mine releases since February have been 0.5% of all water flowing past Rockhampton," he said.

He said his department would continue to work with mines across the Fitzroy Basin to ensure mine water releases were done in accordance with approved conditions and water quality was not adversely impacted.

The Morning Bulletin attempted to contact the Queensland Resources Council for a comment, but it was unable to respond by the time of print.

Topics:  andrew powell, fitzroy basin, mining, water releases



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