Ensham mine risks setting serious precedent for new QLD rehab laws
Ensham mine risks setting serious precedent for new QLD rehab laws
Tough new laws requiring resource companies to progressively rehabilitate as they mine came into effect in Queensland last month.
The Ensham coal mine, about 300 kilometres west of Rockhampton, is one of the first large open-cut mines subject to this legislation, but the revamped regime also has implications for new mines, such as the approved Adani-owned Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee Basin.
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Idemitsu Australia Resources – Ensham Residual Voids Study:
Idemitsu Australia Resources is confident the option it has submitted to the Queensland Government for rehabilitation of post-mining voids at Ensham Mine is based on robust scientific and environmental assessment and has broad regional and community support.
Ensham Mine was required by the State Government to undertake a scientific and environmental assessment of the options to rehabilitate residual voids on the mine site. The study commenced in May 2017 and was submitted to the Department of Environment and Science in March 2019 for review and approval.
Chief Operating Officer, Steve Kovac said, “Idemitsu is pleased that the Government is committed to ensuring land affected by mining activities will be rehabilitated to a stable condition, that is safe and non-polluting and that risks posed by mining activities on the floodplain are managed effectively. We look forward to agreeing a rehabilitation outcome based on our submitted option, which will achieve these aims.
“Ensham has put forward the option which will best protect the environment. It is in line with the requirements of the environmental authority. We do not accept that we are submitting a change to existing rehabilitation requirements.
“The rehabilitation option we have submitted is based on the best independent science and extensive community review, and we are confident that it has broad support from the regional community, the Community Reference Group and the Central Highlands Regional Council.
“Under our proposed plan, rehabilitation at Ensham will meet or exceed industry best practice. The vast majority, around 85% of the land, will be rehabilitated to cattle grazing standard.”
Throughout the study of rehabilitation options, Idemitsu consulted extensively including 47 local and regional community consultations and with the Central Highlands Regional Council and government departments.
An independently chaired Community Reference Group consisting of local stakeholders and landowners was provided with copies of all scientific studies and met seven times between October 2017 and February 2019 to consider rehabilitation options. The Shaw family, who own land on which part of the mine is situated, were part of the reference group.
We look forward to the Ensham mine continuing to employ 600 members of the Central Queensland community for years to come.
For further information, contact Alasdair Jeffrey
Spokesperson from the Queensland Department of Environment and Science:
The Queensland Department of Environment and Science is seeking advice, comment or information on Idemitsu’s proposed rehabilitation plans for its coal mine east of Emerald.
The department is aware of significant public interest in the mine’s rehabilitation – particularly of the voids on the site.
As a result, the department wants the community to have their say on the application submitted by Idemitsu, the mine’s owner.
“We value the thoughts of the local community, neighbours and other interested groups, and this consultation process this gives everyone the chance to tell us directly what they think.”
A departmental spokesperson said Idemitsu was required to undertake a two-year project to determine the best way to rehabilitate voids on site.
“The company was then required to submit an environmental authority amendment application for the department to assess their proposed approach,” Spokesperson said.
“This amendment application proposes an alternative outcome from that detailed in Idemitsu’s Environment Impact Statement for the rehabilitation of the voids in the Nogoa River floodplain.
“That proposed approach is what we want people to give us advice, comment or information about.
“The community will be able to provide this advice from now until January 10 2020.
“The department will consider advice from the public and make a decision on this application in early February.”
Last year the Government passed legislation that requires miners to rehabilitate land progressively as they mine.
This legislation took effect on November 1 2019 and ensures the environment is returned to an appropriate state, and that the mining company covers the cost of this rehabilitation.
The Ensham Mine will transition to the new Progressive Rehabilitation and Closure Plan (PRC Plan) framework and will be required to prepare a PRC Plan with time-based milestones, to ensure rehabilitation occurs progressively over the life of the mine.
The EA for the Ensham Coal Mine, along with the EA amendment application are available to access via the Environmental Protection Act 1994 public register (see https://www.qld.gov.au/environment/pollution/licences-permits/public-register).
The department acknowledges and respects the role of community involvement and public interest in decisions of this nature.
The department is also committed to ensuring that all land affected by mining activities will be rehabilitated to a stable condition, that is safe and non-polluting and specific environment risks posed by mining activities on the floodplain are managed effectively.
To provide feedback, visit the Department of Environment and Science’s website at www.des.qld.gov.au.
Leeanne Enoch, the Minister for Environment and Science:
“Discussions regarding rehabilitation of voids at the Ensham Mine are currently underway between the Department of Environment and Science, as the regulator, and the proponent.
“The Queensland Government is committed to upholding high environmental standards, including in mine rehabilitation. This commitment was demonstrated through the passage of comprehensive legislative reforms in November 2018.
“The Ensham Mine will need to transition to the new Progressive Rehabilitation and Closure (PRC) Plan framework and will be required to prepare a PRC Plan with time based milestones, to ensure rehabilitation occurs progressively over the life of the mine. This new framework will ensure greater transparency and certainty for the community, the company and government, as the regulator.”
Ian Macfarlane, Chief Executive of the Queensland Resources Council:
The Queensland resources industry operates under the most advanced rehabilitation laws in the world.
The resources industry worked with the Queensland Government for more than a year to ensure the new rehabilitation framework would allow the industry to continue to invest and create jobs, while at the same time meeting the highest environmental standards.
Each company and each project will work with the State Government on plans for rehabilitation and post-mining land use. It is another part of the robust regulations under which resources projects operate.
Queensland’s miners are responsible managers of the land. The establishment of the new financial provisioning scheme with those laws further strengthens the reputation of the Queensland resources industry for using world-leading environmental practices.
Originally published by The ABC.
Find out how mine rehabilitation legislation in Australia is changing in our FREE guide.
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- Speak to our team for a free demo of our mine rehabilitation tool, DecipherGreen
- See how our solutions help manage environmental, standard and approval requirements for mine rehabilitation here
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