Mine rehabilitation laws expected to be passed by the Queensland parliament this week would allow coalminers to leave more than 200 voids as pockmarks on the state’s landscape.
In recent days the mining sector, in a campaign backed by both the Queensland Resources Council and the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union, has piled pressure on the government to delay the legislation and ensure new regulations would not be retrospective.
The laws would place additional requirements on newly approved mines, requiring areas such as voids and waste ponds to be rehabilitated in most cases. But the state has repeatedly said those laws would not be applied to existing mines or rescind previously approved environmental management plans.
Queensland coalmines have approval to leave 218 voids as “non-use management areas” that do not require filling or remediation. In many cases, management plans allow miners to do the “bare minimum” to remediate sites.
Rick Humphries from Lock the Gate said amendments to the laws were needed to “ensure taxpayers are not left with the clean-up bill when miners decide to abandon their responsibility”.