Mining took off in Queensland in the 1960’s with the discovery of coal in Ipswich. Mining in Queensland is recognised for tin copper and gold though coal, gas and oil also play a large part of the mining industry in Queensland. Other minerals that have been mined in Queensland include lead, uranium, silver, phosphorous, titanium, arsenic, bauxite, magnesium, molybdenum, nickle and zinc.
Queensland is also known for it’s rich gemfields which is host to one of the worlds largest sapphire bearing grounds. During the late 1890’s the fields were mined commercially but they continue to attract a large number of fossikers and tourists.
The Department of National Resources and Mines established an Abandoned Mine Lands Program (AMLP) in 2001. They claim that they spend more on abandoned mines than anywhere else in Australia and yet they have no policy or guidelines available on their website, no consistent accounting or reporting of rehabilitation works and costs. Despite the Queensland Governments current problem with transparency and accountability they have managed to repair thousands of abandoned shafts where other states and territories have not. There are however an estimated 15,000 legacy mine sites in Queensland of these are some examples of severe Acid Mine Drainage. Some of Queensland legacy sites began operation in the 1890’s others are modern legacy sites having been abandoned in the 1980’s.
The bond system in Queensland is based on a calculation of “expected maximum disturbance in the next planning period (1 to 5 years) as detailed in a Plan of Operations and unit costs for each type of disturbance (e.g., waste piles, tailings dams, tracks, infrastructure and open pits). A discount is allowed based on previous environmental performance as set out in different criteria for small and larger mines. Someone in authority or a consultant to the company must certify that the calculations are correct.”
Recently there has been examples of sites where the AMLP have conducted work, but have not eliminated the pollution risks of arsenic or acid mine drainage (McCarthy 2013). As documented on this website there are many sites with severe pollution. In 2009 severe flooding in Queensland exposed the very serious environmental risks posed by legacy sites with pollution.
For more information on mining assessments and the publics rights to engage see the QLD Environmental Defenders Office fact sheet on mining law in QLD.
Brief History of Coal in Queensland – Dunne, E.F – Royal Historical Society of Queensland 1950. http://www.textqueensland.com.au/item/article/a9dc575a9d990d6aa9936819fc923164
Department of Natural Resources and Mines – Abandoned Mine Lands Program http://mines.industry.qld.gov.au/safety-and-health/abandoned-mine-lands-program.htm
Managing and Prioritising Rehabilitation of Abandoned Mines in Australia http://mines.industry.qld.gov.au/safety-and-health/abandoned-mine-lands-program.htmThere are currently 7 rehabilitation projects through the DNRM Mount Morgan Mine Rehabilitation Project Mount Oxide Rehabilitation Project Croydon (Federation Mine) Rehabilitation Project Horn Island Rehabilitation Project Herberton Rehabilitation Project Charters Towers Shaft Repair Gympie Shaft Repair
QLD EDO mining fact sheet http://ausnukefreealliance.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/qld-mining-fact-sheet.pdf