Inadequate mining bonds


p2328-McArthur-River-MineLETTER TO THE EDITOR
Sir – The NT Government refuses to reveal the size of mining bonds lodged by mining companies to cover the cost of rejuvenating mining sites at the conclusion of operations on the grounds of them being commercial in confidence matters.
It has frequently been considered by Territorians that the bonds may be insufficient to cover rejuvenation costs.
In recent times it was inadvertently revealed that a foreign mining company lodged a quarter million dollar bond to cover the costs of rejuvenating land in the Roper River region after an estimated ten billion dollars of illmenite [a black mineral consisting of oxides of iron and titanium] had been extracted.
It has been reported by News Corp that the government is holding a $150,000 bond to clean up the Redbank Mine site whereas the estimated clean-up cost is $10m.
The Supreme Court has now found that the bond lodged to clean up the Frances Creek iron mine site is hopelessly insufficient to cover costs. The estimated cost to clean up the site is $25 to $30 million while the bond being held by the government is a mere $5 million.
It is fairly obvious that Territorians will either be left to cover rejuvenation costs of the Frances Creek site or it will not be cleaned up, in much the same way as has occurred with many of the Territories older legacy mines.
It has been estimated that the McArthur River mine (pictured) site may cost up to a billion dollars to rejuvenate but the government is not disclosing the size of the bond being held.
There is much talk from the government about bonds being lodged by petro gas mining companies to cover the costs of rejuvenating land after the companies have been and gone.
The past history of bonds being inadequate to cover costs certainly doesn’t inspire much confidence in the system.
It is most likely that any revenue the government receives in the form of royalties from petro gas mining companies will be more than soaked up when Territorians are compelled to clean up after mining operations have ceased.
With an election imminent and the vast majority of Territorians being fervently opposed to fracking, the government should be taking a long hard look at the situation.
Bruce Francais


  1. Bruce has again highlighted a massive problem in the Territory.
    Everybody knows about Redbank, Mount Todd, Rum Jungle and the Roper. We are about to go through the same thing with Ranger.
    In the Barkly alone, there are more than 50 such sites. Some of them are historic and well over 100 years old with not even token rehabilitative efforts.
    Almost 100 years after Hatches Creek closed, there are still massive mine shafts open to anybody who wants to stumble around.
    There is a vexatious and totally unfounded belief by some that it is the final resting place of Peter Falconio.
    Peko Mine continues to pollute Tennant Creek more than 30 years after it closed.
    Noble’s Nob, perhaps one of the richest ever mines, remains a huge hole in the ground unprotected by fences. People have died there.
    Bootu Creek closed down last year but there are no plans for rehabilitation because it may reopen.
    Yeah, right.
    Nobody wants to talk about the fracking “incident” in the Georgina a while back.
    But everybody, in government at least, wants to tell us fracking is safe.
    Bruce talked about having confidence in the system. I don’t understand – there is no system.
    It should not matter if those holes in the ground sit on white fella land or black fella land – they are in the Territory, yet neither major party seems to want to really do anything about it.


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