BY JARROD MELMETH

A report from the Australia Institute is blasting Hunter Valley mine companies for their unethical practices when it comes to the rehabilitation of old mine sites.

The report titled ‘Mind the Gap” claims that coal mining companies in the region are failing to set aside enough money to fill in voids or maintain vegetation on top of filled in voids. 

Author of the report, Research Director Rod Campbell highlights the stark difference between funds paid to the NSW Government by mining companies in environmental bonds and the actual cost to fill in the 23 voids across the Hunter Valley. 

The Institute estimates the total cost to fill in all of the voids across the region would costs between $11 billion and $26 billion, a number which is astronomical compared to the just $3.3 billion in environmental bonds the State Government holds for every mine across the state. 

Mr Campbell says the Government is too soft on coal mine operators, making it easier for them to walk away then to carry out the work.

“Planning approvals have granted big, multinational coal mining companies the right to leave large, toxic holes in the Hunter Valley in perpetuity. 

“There is nothing against approvals going on here. I think what the issue is, is the state of rehabilitation that has been approved by governments, and the conditions that have been put on mines, are a long way out of step with public expectations of what a post-mining Hunter Valley might look like.

“If we look into the costs of filling in some of these voids and perhaps restoring the landscape in the future to what is more in line with community expectations. It is going to cost a lot of money, which is going to have to be paid by someone. Whether that is the mine companies or the Governments,” Mr Campbell said. 

Source: Australian Water Association