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    Media Statements

    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability
    The Honourable Kate Jones


    Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability
    The Honourable Kate Jones

    Monday, April 12, 2010


    Three central Queensland mines have been fined for discharging into the Fitzroy River in breach of their environmental licence conditions, Climate Change and Sustainability Minister Kate Jones said today.

    Moranbah North coal mine has been fined $4,000 for exceeding its water release limits and for releasing water from an unauthorised discharge point.

    Rolleston and Callide coal mines were each fined $2,000 for exceeding their water release limits.

    “These fines are a clear message to mine operators that breaches will not be tolerated,” Ms Jones said.

    “The Fitzroy River basin now has the toughest discharging regime in the state. Most if not all of these discharges would have been within previous limits, but last year I raised the bar.

    “The severe rains in February were the first test for the new reporting regime and I’m pleased that all 42 mines followed the reporting rules.

    “The mines that have breached their conditions must now improve their water management practices so that this does not happen again.

    “I understand these are tougher restrictions but I will not make any compromises. The people of central Queensland deserve nothing less than a tough regime in the Fitzroy Basin.”

    Member for Rockhampton Robert Schwarten said: “Even though they are relatively minor transgressions, they are breaches all the same.”

    “This serves as a warning to all mining companies that this Government is fair dinkum about improving standards.”

    Ms Jones said a further six mines had been issued with warning notices - Blackwater, Moorvale, Dawson Central, Blair Athol, Peak Downs and Moranbah North.

    “The decision not to prosecute was taken because in each instance, despite the breach of environmental operating conditions, the investigations found no evidence of significant environmental harm having been caused,” she said.

    “The environmental compliance record of each company will also be taken into account when the level of financial assurance they are required to provide is assessed.

    “Financial assurance is like an insurance policy for Queensland taxpayers that the company is required to set aside to use to minimise environmental harm or to rehabilitate land impacted by mining.

    “The level of that assurance can be reassessed at any time, for example, as a result of a significant change in the likely environmental harm.”

    Ms Jones said investigations were continuing into two further mines – Saraii and Coppabella – as a result of discharges following the February rains.

    “Three mines – Coppabella, Moorvale and Moranbah North – are also being investigated for discharges following Cyclone Ului,” she said.

    “Eleven mines have been, or are being, investigated for non-compliance with Environmental Authority conditions.”

    The department’s investigations included: analysing the nature and extent of the exceedence, a review of water monitoring data supplied by individual mines, water sampling and analysis and inspections by departmental investigators of water infrastructure and waste water management practices on-site.

    Ms Jones said the department, mining companies, the Fitzroy Water Quality Advisory Group and other key stakeholders would continue to work together to protect and improve the quality of the region’s waterways.

    “Following these recent experiences mining companies are now even more aware of their statutory obligations, and the government’s expectations, and should be better placed to manage mine water discharges when the heavy rains arrive during the next wet season,” she said.

    “The department will continue to enforce the more stringent environmental requirements in relation to water quality standards, monitoring and reporting which the mining companies agreed to and which were introduced last year.

    “We will take appropriate action against any mine found to be in breach of their environmental authority.”

    Depending on the severity of water quality breaches, individual mining companies may face enforcement action ranging from a warning notice to a fine of up to $200,000 and two years imprisonment.

    12 April 2010
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