Queensland Environment Minister Andrew McNamara said he would introduce a new Bill to State Parliament this week to bring the nine mining sites in line with requirements under the Environmental Protection Act over the next three years.
It brings to an end the “special status” granted to some mining companies going back to when Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen was Queensland Premier from 1968 to 1987, McNamara said.
He added the sites include some of the largest mining operations in Queensland such as coal mining operations in Central Queensland, bauxite mining on Cape York Peninsula and the copper mining operations at Mount Isa.
“The Acts were drafted at a time when the economic conditions were different, and when the government of the day felt that it needed to give greater certainty to the mining companies, given the scale of capital investment the mines required.”
Special status was justified by the government at the time because the cost of compliance for these companies was too great.
Queensland Resources Council CEO Michael Roche told Environmental Management News the companies will be able to comply with the regulations.
He said an audit of the mines concerned was carried out by the EPA in 2001 and all were meeting environmental standards, with the exception of air emissions at Xstrata Copper's Mount Isa operations. However, Xstrata committed some time ago to ensure air quality met EPA requirements.