Three years after Shree Minerals ceased mining at its Nelson Bay River site, Resources Minister, Guy Barnett today confirmed an estimated 80 000 cubic metres of acid-producing rock continues to represent an environmental threat.
No action has been taken by either the company or government to remediate the mine site, and it’s clear from Mr Barnett’s answers today that the waste will stay where it’s been dumped for the foreseeable future.
The acid-producing waste dump is damning testimony to Shree’s breach of its mining permit.
An estimated twenty times more polluting material than Shree projected before its mine permit was granted by the Environment Protection Authority has been dumped on the banks of the Nelson Bay River in the Tarkine.
Given Shree’s continuing struggles with financial viability, there are legitimate questions over whether the company will ever return to the mine site and either restart operations or, at the very least, clean up its mess.
Tasmania has no official policy on mining legacies. According to a 2014 scientific paper, ‘Australia’s Mining Legacy Challenge’, on average the State spends about $160 000 a year on mine legacy remediation.
The paper states, ‘Of the 681 metal-related abandoned mines in Tasmania, 215 pose a threat to the environment through the dumping of acid producing rock’.
Despite the significant environmental risks, the EPA has confirmed that a clean of these 215 sites cannot be funded through the under-resourced Mining Lands Trust Fund.
The question is, will Tasmanian taxpayers be left with the clean-up bill by Shree?
Cassy O’Connor MP | Greens’ Leader and Mining spokesperson