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    Minister for Natural Resources and Mines
    The Honourable Andrew Cripps

    Controlled water release at Mount Morgan Mine site

    Minister for Natural Resources and Mines
    The Honourable Andrew Cripps

    Friday, February 22, 2013

    Controlled water release at Mount Morgan Mine site

    Heavy rainfall forecast for the Capricornia district over the next few days will necessitate a controlled release of water from the abandoned Mount Morgan Mine site.

    Abandoned Mine Lands Program officers from the Department of Natural Resources and Mines will oversee a series of small controlled releases of water into the Dee River.

    Minister for Natural Resources and Mines, Andrew Cripps, said controlled water releases were necessary to minimise the risk of another uncontrolled discharge of untreated water from the former mine’s open cut pit into the Dee River.

    “Approximately 700 millimetres of rain fell over the Mount Morgan mine site between 23 and 26 January 2013. That was close to the site’s annual rainfall in just three days,” Mr Cripps said.

    “On 26 January, that deluge caused the first uncontrolled discharge of untreated water from the open cut pit in the mine’s 131-year history. Further heavy rainfall of between 40-80mm per day is forecast for the area over the next few days.

    “That means a controlled water release is necessary as the only practical option to maintain site safety and minimise the risk of another uncontrolled water discharge and environmental impacts downstream.”

    Mr Cripps said the controlled water releases will be managed and closely monitored by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines in conjunction with the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.

    “The mine site’s rehabilitation management plan allows for controlled releases when significant rainfall events occur and the department has successfully managed previous controlled water releases on 25 January 2013 and twice in March 2011,” he said.

    “Dee River landholders downstream of Mount Morgan and local authorities have been informed about the planned controlled water release.

    “Department officers will continue to monitor flows and downstream river water quality on a daily basis in the Dee and Don Rivers and keep landholders fully informed of the situation.

    “The Mount Morgan Mine site’s lime dosing water treatment plant and onsite evaporators are operating to treat water and reduce water levels in the open cut pit.”

    Mr Cripps said the State Government acknowledged that the ongoing management of Mt Morgan was a serious issue and that the local community had legitimate concerns.

    “These problems result from more than 100 years of mining practices before the mine was abandoned by industry and site management became the responsibility of the State Government,” he said.

    It is important to note that the Mount Morgan Mine is more than 400 kilometres by river away from the Fitzroy River and significant dilution will occur as water flows through the Dee and Don River.

    [ENDS] 22 February 2013

    Media contact: Jane Paterson 0417 281 754 or Paul Sutherland 0428 868 237