NQ mine waste water causing concern ahead of wet season

Environmentally friendly management of waste water from mines is a common concern. Pictured is Ensham mine.
Environmentally friendly management of waste water from mines is a common concern. Pictured is Ensham mine.

2pm: THE State Government says plans have been submitted to address issues with potential waste water releases from a pond at a nickel refinery in North Queensland.

Earlier today, WWF-Australia called on the State Government to do something soon about issues at the Yabulu refinery near Townsville.

Mining Magnate Clive Palmer had sought permission in June to release water from a tailings pond at the refinery ahead of the wet season.

This afternoon, Department of Environment and Heritage Protection Acting Executive Director Ingrid Fomiatti Minnesma said the department is continuing to engage with Queensland Nickel to address water management issues at Queensland Nickel's Yabulu Refinery.  

"Queensland Nickel has submitted a corrective action plan to EHP to address the water management issues at the site and this plan has been reviewed and comments have been provided back to Queensland Nickel," she said.

"Queensland Nickel submitted a draft Transitional Environmental Program (TEP) to EHP yesterday (January 8) which proposed various actions to manage the risk of a release from the tailings storage facility. These actions include diverting stormwater away from the tailings storage facility and constructing additional contaminated water storage capacity on site to reduce the spill risk in the future.

"The department is reviewing the TEP as a matter of priority. Queensland Nickel requires a permit from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) should it choose to use its ocean outfall pipeline."


11.25am: CALLS are being made to the State Government to do something about ineffective plans for dealing with potential waste water charge at a North Queensland  refinery.

WWF-Australia is calling on Queensland's Acting Premier Jeff Seeney to reveal the Government's plan to avert a potential environmental disaster at the Yabulu Nickel Refinery, near Townsville.

The call comes after the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said the nickel refinery has failed to effectively deal with potential waste water discharge.

In June last year, mining magnate Clive Palmer sought permission to release water from a tailings pond at his Yabulu nickel refinery ahead  of the wet season.

The mining magnate warned of dire consequences if it burst.

The Federal Government handed Mr Palmer's request to GBRMPA.

GBRMPA asked Queensland Nickel for more information but says the company failed to provide the extra details and the application has now lapsed.

According to other media outlets, GBRMPA says in a statement it is concerned about the risks a discharge poses to the reef and is monitoring the situation.

WWF-Australia spokesperson Nick Heath said it's been six months since the Queensland Government admitted the potential for environmental disaster.

"Heavy rains from the wet season could hit this area any day now, we have a ticking time bomb on our hands," Mr Heath said.

"The threat of a catastrophic disaster to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area is very real.

"The Government needs to urgently reveal how it plans to fix this.

"Dumping millions of litres of contaminated water into the Great Barrier Reef is not the answer. The tailings dam water contains metals, nutrients and nitrogen.

"Not only could a release damage parts of the reef but the chemicals could enter the food chain, potentially affecting the fish we eat."

The Morning Bulletin is seeking comment from  Mr Palmer on the latest reaction from conservationists.

Concerns about mine waste water discharge is common in the state, especially in Central Queensland.

Topics:  mining nickel refinery north queensland

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