• Mining industry in daily meetings with state government over clean-up bill
Mining industry in daily meetings with state government over clean-up bill
09 Nov, 2018, No Comment

Summary: Plans to introduce stricter rules to make mining companies clean-up their mines have prompted several 11th-hour meetings with state government officials this week.....

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Former Bligh government natural resources minister Stephen Robertson has been called in to mediate negotiations between the government, the Queensland Resources Council and major mining companies, such as BHP and Glencore.

In February, Treasurer Jackie Trad reintroduced the Mineral and Energy Resources (Financial Provisioning) bill, which had lapsed when the November 2017 election was called.

It would manage the financial risk to the state if mineral and energy resource tenure holders did not comply with their environmental management and rehabilitation obligations.

It would also ensure land disturbed by mining activities was rehabilitated to a safe and stable form that did not cause environmental harm and could sustain an approved post-mining land use.

Miners would have to pay, according to risk, into a pool of funds that would be used to rehabilitate the land.

Brisbane Times understands the mining industry was unhappy with planned amendments to the bill, due to go before cabinet on Monday, amid concerns it could be retrospective and capture existing mines, adding extra costs and requirements.

There were also concerns about a requirement for a public interest evaluation.

The changes came after it was revealed taxpayers may have to pay up to $40 million in clean-up costs after the collapse of Clive Palmer's Queensland Nickel refinery in Townsville.

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the body had been negotiating with the state government.

"The QRC is working with the Queensland government on amendments to the mining rehabilitation legislation to ensure our industry has the highest standards and best outcomes for land rehabilitation," he said.

Queensland Resources Council CEO Ian Macfarlane stressed te impact of mining jobs.

Queensland Resources Council CEO Ian Macfarlane stressed te impact of mining jobs.CREDIT:LOUIE DOUVIS

"This negotiation has been in good faith.

"But it's essential we get this right, and as the government promised, that there are no retrospective elements to the new laws."

Mr Macfarlane said the resources sector added more than $55 billion to the state's bottom line and contributed more than $4 billion in royalties.

"We must prioritise stable regulation that does nothing to deter future investment," he said.

"The resources sector employs about 300,000 Queenslanders, either directly or in supporting industries.

"Jobs in every community across Queensland, from Cairns to Coolangatta, are on the line without resources investment."

Environmental group Lock the Gate wants amendments to ensure existing mines cannot leave behind pit voids, waste rocks and water dumps.

Ms Trad, who this week was acting premier, said the legislation followed more than a year of consultation with the resource sector and environmental groups, and it was an election commitment.

"I'm confident this legislation strikes the right balance for the environment and the resources sector, while ensuring resource companies, not taxpayers, foot the bill for the rehabilitation of failed mines or stranded assets," she said.

Jackie Trad has been acting premier this week.

Jackie Trad has been acting premier this week.CREDIT:ROBERT SHAKESPEARE

"These reforms will provide greater certainty around rehabilitation requirements for the resource industry and promote the progressive rehabilitation of mine sites, which will be good for sustainability jobs in the regions."

Ms Trad said she had asked Mr Robertson to facilitate several technical meetings with the resource sector and environmental groups this week.

State Development Minister Cameron Dick the rehabilitation bill was about getting the balance right.

"Mining is such an important part of the Queensland economy," he said.

"I've been the health minister and I know how much money we have to spend on our social portfolios, like education and health and mining contributes an enormous amount to our state.

"But it's important that there be a balance there with rehabilitation and the government's working through issues on that particular matter at the moment."

The bill will be debated in the Queensland Parliament next week.


Felicity Caldwell, 8/11/2018, www.canberratimes.com.au/politics/queensland/mining-industry-in-daily-meetings-with-state-government-over-clean-up-bill-20181107-p50el2.html

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