Mining clean-up laws too late for Texas

Texas Silver Mine

Jobs, industry, infrastructure… we are all familiar with what mining brings into our communities, but what they leave behind is much more concerning.

New laws forcing mining companies to clean up their own mess have come all too late for the Texas community, who fear the damage to the local environment has already been done.

 

The State Government have announced new laws to prevent businesses from leaving taxpayers to do their dirty work and cover costly environmental clean-up bills.

Environment Minister Dr Steven Miles said the Queensland Government would no longer tolerate companies closing their doors and leaving taxpayers to clean up after them.

It’s an injustice the Texas community knows all too well.

The Department of Environmental Protection was left to manage threats of cyanide and heavy metal pollution after the Texas Silver Mine went into liquidation last year.

It may be too late for Texas but the new laws will help protect other communities in the future.

Dr Miles says the Environmental Protection (Chain of Responsibility) Amendment Bill is required to deal with the problem.

“In the past 12 months there has been increasing difficulties in ensuring that sites operated by companies in financial difficulty continue to comply with their environmental obligations,” Dr Miles said.

“There have been too many occasions where companies have closed their doors, and there is no money to deal with the costly clean-up and rehabilitation,” Dr Miles said.

“This has included sites such as the Texas Silver Mine”.

Dr Miles said the existing provisions of the Environmental Protection Act were inadequate.

“Urgent amendments are required so that the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection can impose a chain of responsibility, and these companies bear the cost of managing and rehabilitating sites.

“The Government won’t tolerate seeing a business deliberately isolating or holding back funds that should be made available to meet their obligations to the workers, or the community,” he said.

Other key points in the Bill include:

  • If one of these environmental protection orders is issued, and the recipient fails to comply with it, the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection may require the recipient to pay the costs of taking action stated in the order or monitoring compliance with the order.
  • The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection can amend environmental authorities when they are transferred to impose a condition requiring the provision of financial assurance.
  • Authorised officers under the EP Act have powers to access sites no longer subject to an environmental authority.