TASMANIAN Resources minister Bryan Green admitted that historic mining activity has contaminated about 40 of the state’s rivers.
At a budget estimates hearing in early June, Mr Green was asked for an update on government plans to remediate old mine sites and tackle the heavy metals contamination of the state’s rivers and streams.
Mr Green told the hearing committee the government was doing what it could at the legacy sites, while tightening environmental laws for new and existing mines.
“We’ve got a fund, not a huge amount, that allows us to mitigate when we can,” he said.
“We admit that there is a large task to undertake.
“New mines have a far more stringent arrangement in place with respect to dealing with the sign-off from the EPA, but yes, there is a legacy issue in Tasmania.”
Meanwhile, tensions between pro-mining and conservationist groups in Tasmania have escalated after conservationists lodged a second legal action against mining proposals in the Tarkine region. Venture Minerals’ proposed iron ore mine at Riley Creek is in the bitterly contested Tarkine region in Tasmania’s North West, where 10 mines are scheduled for development through the next five years.
The Riley Creek mine received State Government approval last month and was expected to create 60 jobs.
Mr Green told the budget estimates committee that there was no reason the mine should not also get Commonwealth approval, and he was confident all proposals met the highest environmental standards. He said proposed mines at
Livingston, Mount Lindsay and Big Wilson were also likely to be approved. Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources secretary Norm McIlfatrick said reopening mines on old sites like Riley Creek could repair past damage.
Tensions have escalated, with large pro-mining rallies held in communities that see mining as an economic lifeline. The region has the highest unemployment figures in Tasmania; the state has the highest unemployment in the country.