Mining remediation bonds fall massively short


Sir – Resources Minister Ken Vowles recently said: “Labor inherited a remediation system from the CLP that isn’t open, transparent or effective.”
Figures released show that since 2013, when a 1% levee was introduced for mining operations in the Territory, that of $34 million that  has been collected, a mere $12 million has been put into a trust for the remediation of legacy mines in the NT.
The remainder has been appropriated by the government for other use.
It has been revealed that remediation work for past and present mining operations in the NT will be nearly $3 BILLION dollars.
It is clear that with a whopping great shortfall, the cost of cleaning up mine sites will be left to the taxpayers. It is almost certain of course that most of the work will never be done.
It is quite obvious that mining bonds in the past have been either non-existent or hopelessly inadequate to cover costs. The Giles administration treated mining bonds as “commercial in confidence” matters,  refusing to reveal details to the public. One would certainly hope that the new Labor administration will stand by the Minister’s call for openness and transparency.
Jerry Ren, the billionaire operator of a proposed ilmenite mine in the Roper River region, inadvertently revealed that he had been required to lodge a mere $250,000 bond for a mine that would produce $8 BILLION of ilmenite  during the life of the mine. Openness and transparency would certainly prevent this ridiculous sort of thing happening in future.
If the Labor government abandons its moratorium on fracking it will be very interesting to see what size mining bonds will be required to be lodged by onshore gas mining  companies and whether there will be any outside input into the decisions that are made relating to the bond sizes
Considering that environmental damage may not become  evident until long after mining operations have ceased, it will also be interesting to see how long the bonds will actually be in place for.
Perhaps the government and the mining companies will also be able to explain to Terittorians how they can clean up a damaged aquifer should any environmental damage occur.
Bruce Francais


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