11th June 2014
A recent article in Sydney’s The Saturday Paper has reported on the massive clean up costs being faced by state governments across Australia.
As the boom ends, poor oversight and lax bonds has left governments stuck with an enormous bill for mining’s clean-up.
One example of this is Mount Morgan, near Rockhampton in Queensland, at one time the largest goldmine in the world. In the 100 years to 1981 it produced about 262 tonnes of gold, 37 tonnes of silver and 387,000 tonnes of copper, as well as 134 million tonnes of waste rock and overburden. Then the price of gold fell and the price of the cyanide used to extract the gold rose, and the mine’s then-operators walked away, leaving behind the old pit, flooded with billions of litres of acidic water and elevated levels of 18 elements, including lead, cobalt, cadmium, copper, manganese. And there it has stayed – a cocktail of heavy metals in a giant bath of sulfuric acid – with minimal rehabilitation, gradually leaching pollutants. Decades later, long stretches of the nearby Dee River remain highly toxic. And in the big wet of January 2013, when the pit overflowed, there were “impacts”, as the Queensland mines department blandly put it, for 50 kilometres downstream. That is to say, the Dee River turned bright turquoise, killing fish and other wildlife, and leaving behind a poisonous sludge on the streambed. The Queensland government has spent more than $50 million since 1992 mitigating the worst of the problems posed by the abandoned site at Mount Morgan
To read the full news article from The Saturday Paper click here