Timeline means pit voids don't need to be rehabilitated
AN environmental group has slammed a decision to not enforce rehabilitation of three pit voids on the Isaac River flood plain.
Lock the Gate Alliance said the Queensland Coordinator General's approval of the Olive Downs coal mine project was completely at odds with the mine rehabilitation reforms, which promised to ban final voids on floodplains, passed in parliament last year.
The organisation's mine rehabilitation coordinator Rick Humphries said the move would be "a ticking time bomb that represents a real long-term threat to the river and downstream users”.
"It completely undermines a key element of the Queensland Government rehabilitation reforms which promised to stop mining giants leaving behind contaminated hypersaline pit lakes on floodplains because the environmental risks to our precious rivers are too great,” he said.
"We're incredibly disappointed that the Queensland Government has failed the first crucial test of its new mine rehabilitation laws.
"The Coordinator General had the option to require the Olive Downs project to fully protect the floodplain by requiring the pits were backfilled.
"Every dollar not spent by the mining industry to fix up their mess is a dollar cost to the taxpayer in the form of environmental risk and loss of the value of the un-rehabilitated land.
"If a mining project can't afford to return the mined land to a fully rehabilitated state that supports a post-mining land use then it should be rejected.
"Mining companies must bear the full cost of rehabilitation, not the taxpayer.
"We're calling for the Queensland Government to urgently reconsider this decision, and to require the Olive Downs mine to fully backfill and rehabilitate all pit voids consistent with the Government's new rehabilitation policy.”
A spokesperson of the Coordinator-General said: "The Environmental Authority application for this project was submitted prior to the commencement of the new rehabilitation legal provisions and, under the law, was required to be assessed under the transitional arrangements”.
"In addition, all impacts were comprehensively identified and assessed objectively on their merits and stringent conditions were set to ensure the final land use is stable, safe and non-polluting,” the spokesperson said.