Coalmines didn't cause overflow

FLOODED coalmines are not responsible for the torrents of water flowing over the Rockhampton Barrage last week, says Member for Rockhampton Robert Schwarten.

And he insisted there would be no threat to the quality of water in the Fitzroy River as up to 40 Central Queensland coalmines pumped out the floodwater that devastated the industry back in January.

Mr Schwarten has responded to questions from Bruce Diamond, a political rival who will stand as an independent candidate in the Rockhampton constituency at the next state election.

Mr Diamond lives close to the barrage and noticed it was open for much of last week even though there had been no significant rainfall in the catchment for months.

He said he was concerned that, with so much unexplained water in the river, there was a possibility that the environment and drinking water was at threat from pumping mines.

But Mr Schwarten said although mines were discharging, they were governed by strict guidelines to ensure minimal risk and that DERM figures showed mine water discharge currently accounted for only 6% of water flowing into the barrage.

It is a sensitive issue.

Last week the Queensland Resources Council, which represents the interests of various mining companies, called upon the Queensland Government to speed up the de-watering.

Chief executive Michael Roche said mines were still flooded with the equivalent of the amount of water in Sydney Harbour – 500,000 megalitres – and that the temporary licences issued to release the water into creeks and rivers were too restrictive.

He argued that coal production was still severely hampered and that $7 billion of exports had been lost so far.

But the Queensland Greens have urged the Minister for the Environment to stand firm, accusing mines of having a disgraceful environmental record on mine water.

“In 2008 when the Ensham coalmine was allowed to discharge contaminated water into the Fitzroy rover system, the salinity level of town water supplies for Blackwater, Bluff, Tieri, Middlemount and Dysart was four times that of Australian Drinking Water Guidelines,” he said.

“Queensland Health had to issue warnings to residents.”

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