Mining Rehabilitation Fund Bill an Open Door for Environmental Damage

It seems the Western Australian Government is intent on further enabling the mining industry to strengthen its stranglehold on the environment.

Not only is this bill a clear indication of this government’s lack of respect for the environment, it is also a Bill based on lies and miscommunications.

Robin Chapple MLC, Greens WA spokesperson for the Mining and Pastoral Region commented on the fund today:

“This Office was presented with a briefing on this Bill, wherein I clearly asked whether the Bill would end the existing requirement for mines to pay environmental bonds to cover potential remediation liabilities. The answer I received was that they did not believe so. Now I read that this is exactly the purpose of the Bill. I say the Western Australian people have been duped”.

In 2008, WA's Department of Industry and Resources recommended moving to a "full cost" bond system in order to reduce the likelihood of the government having to fund rehabilitation of abandoned mines. The Department of Environment and Conservation also supported full-cost performance bonds.

This approach would have required mining companies in Western Australia to make bond payments that would have been consistent with other jurisdictions in Australia and other developed countries. The new system will not.

“While we are being asked to believe that this Bill will achieve greater and more flexible environmental outcomes, the plain truth is that mines will only be required through this fund to contribute 10-20% of rehabilitation costs, by the Department’s own admission. We can only assume that the Western Australian people are being asked to pick up the tab for the rest of the costs”, said Mr Chapple.

“From media released by the Department of Mines and Petroleum itself, the real justification for this bill is – ‘an advantage of the proposed Mining Rehabilitation Fund is that it is predicted to be lower cost for industry compared to bonds’.  Why are we valuing industry’s needs over the environmental, social and inter-generational costs of mine remediation?”

For more information please contact Robin Chapple on 0409 379 263 or 9486 8255

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