Transparency and better quality rehabilitation regulation is needed for ALL mines
Send a message to Deputy Premier Jackie Trad now asking her to close the loopholes in new laws to improve mine rehabilitation laws.
The Qld Parliament is likely to vote soon on proposed laws that are intended to improve regulation of our mine rehabilitation and financial assurance frameworks.
Thanks to poor operators and poor regulation the Queensland Government has been left with a debt of billions of dollars due to abandoned mines falling through the cracks of our current laws.
Every year the government is having to pay $3 million to ensure the Mount Morgan Mine outside Rockhampton is prevented from poisoning local rivers.
This is an issue across Queensland, where we have 15,000 abandoned mine features, with 20 of these posing serious risks.
The laws before Parliament will make some improvements - for example to increase enforceability of progressive rehabilitation, and to require an application for a new mine to be subject to community consultation and court review on the proposed end-of-life plan.
However, the bill has two serious flaws that must be remedied if we are to have certainty that they will lead to improved mine rehabilitation and less risk to government, taxpayers, communities and the environment:
- Mine operators that have not even started digging are exempt from provisions that would ensure better quality rehabilitation – including the Adani Carmichael Mine. This means we are unlikely to see whether this framework will lead to substantial improvements in rehabilitation and fewer holes being left around Queensland until many decades from now, possibly not in our lifetime;
- There is a serious lack of transparency around financial assurance decision making – with the Bill proposing to exclude documents relevant to the financial provision scheme from the Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld). This means that community information requests on public interest decisions on the new financial assurance framework will not have the independent oversight of the Office of the Information Commissioner.
The RTI Act is a fundamental mechanism for ensuring accountability and transparency in Queensland governance.
Transparency in decision making is essential to provide better quality decision making with more community confidence, and to reduce risks of corruption.
There are sufficient measures in the RTI Act to ensure that information that is inappropriate for disclosure to the public, such as documents under cabinet consideration or under commercial-in-confidence, are not provided to the public. There is therefore no reason to exclude any decisions or documents made under the EP Act from the application of the RTI Act, including with respect to this new framework.
With the Adani Carmichael Mine threatening to disturb 28,000ha of land and to potentially leave huge holes after they finish mining, something has to be done to better protect Queensland.
Use our tool to send an email now to Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad, calling on her to close the loopholes in this legislation.
You can also contact your local state member to ask that loopholes allowing existing proponents to not rehabilitate sites and eroding transparency be closed.