Minister Jones and Robertson will undoubtedly work with state agencies, the military, communities and companies to fast track rebuilding the state economy, but at what cost the environment?
The impact to our sensitive ecology will be very hard. Waterways and lands (national parks, migratory bird wetlands and remnant bushland) will suffer with the toxins being released, and after years of drought and now flooding, the mix of heavy metals will devastate species recovery.
Friends of the Earth spokesperson Drew Hutton said this was the third year in a row that major flooding had caused serious pollution events. In 2008 the Ensham coal mine in central Queensland was flooded and heavy metals were released into the Fitzroy catchment. In 2009 the Lady Annie copper mine in north Queensland released large amounts of heavy metals when its tailings dam was breached.
Also worrying, flooding of coal seam gas areas is undoubtedly over-topping holding ponds containing large amounts of salty water. Once this salt hits the high clay content black soil plains of the Darling Downs it is likely to destroy the ability of these fields to produce again since salt on soil containing more than 30 per cent clay renders such soil unproductive.
These events were possibly the biggest pollution events in the state’s history.
“The mining industry’s claim that dilution solves all these problems is fanciful,” Mr Hutton said.
“The dilution effect will offer some diminution of the damage but the heavy metals released from mines will lodge behind any obstructions in the river system and stay in the sediments, ready to be mobilised and the salt from coal seam gas operations will ruin good farmland.”
“It is illegal for mining companies to cause such high levels of pollution but all the State government can do is approve these releases and hope for the best.”
We can be assured Minister Robertson and Minister Hinchliffe will not develop legislation to protect the environment and downstream communities from mine toxin release. Another loss for the environment and the people of Queensland as the big end of town get on with building profit.