Budget boosts abandoned mine clean-up effort

The Palaszczuk Government will commit $42 million in the 2016-17 State Budget on Tuesday to manage public safety risks with abandoned mine sites across Queensland.

Natural Resources and Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the increased funding over five years would be an unprecedented boost to the Department of Natural Resources and Mines program that works on abandoned mine sites across the State.

“The program has been managing a range of public safety risks from mine sites abandoned with an annual budget of $6 million,” he said.

With staff based in Townsville, Rockhampton and Brisbane, the increased investment will allow the Program to make even greater improvements to public safety, including for treating water impounded in mine sites and filling abandoned mine shafts.

There are currently more than 15,000 identified abandoned mine sites across Queensland, with an estimated 3500 of those on state-owned land. Of these, most are very small. However there are about several hundred medium to large sites where significant mineral processing and smelting was carried out.

The largest abandoned mine site is the former Mount Morgan Gold Mine, located 32 km south-west of Rockhampton in Central Queensland.

The Abandoned Mine Lands Program priorities include:

  • manages impacts from major abandoned mine sites including Mount Morgan
  • delivers mine shaft repair programs in the historic gold mining towns of Charters Towers and Gympie
  • manages responses relating to subsidence issues at Collingwood Park
  • undertakes progressive assessment and close-out of public safety risks at smaller mine sites across Queensland
  • provides an emergency first response with specialised technical expertise for newly reported issues on abandoned mine sites, such as historic mine shaft collapses and mine subsidences.

In April, State Parliament passed legislation to give the environmental regulator greater powers to pursue companies, entities and individuals who failed to uphold their environmental responsibilities.

The Environmental Protection (Chain of Responsibility) Amendment Bill received bipartisan support – endorsing the Government’s crackdown on poor environmental performers.

The new powers have already been used to issue an Environmental Protection Order (EPO) to the former chief executive of Linc Energy, Peter Bond.

Queensland’s environmental regulator – EHP – issued the order last month to ensure specific environmental obligations in relation to the Linc site were being met.

Environment Minister Dr Steven Miles said: “Between these new funds and the recently passed new environmental protection laws the Palaszczuk government has a comprehensive plan to manage existing abandoned mines and avoid the number of abandoned mines increasing."

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