Water, towns on top of QRC list

QUEENSLAND Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche yesterday revealed some of the issues affecting Bowen Basin mines he would be lobbying the State Government about in the coming months.

Angie Tomlinson

Speaking at the Queensland Resources Expo “Resourcing for the Future” conference in Rockhampton, Roche said the current take or pay system used on mine water consumption was a disincentive for operations to economise their water consumption.

He pointed out that while many mines had achieved great water effectiveness, the current system did not reward those mines. He also pointed out mines should communicate their water saving successes to the communities to clear up any misconceptions about operation water usage rates.

He said the take or pay system was something the QRC would be raising soon with the Government.

He also highlighted that coal seam gas water is currently still classified as waste, meaning the water can not be used by communities. He said this was a regulatory problem and an issue the QRC would be looking at.

Roche also covered the strain that “drive-in drive-out” mine workers had put on community services and infrastructure. He said a lot of negative feeling was about in the communities where mine employees put a strain on services such as water and sewage, and upward pressure on house prices, yet did not actually live in or contribute to the community.

The lack of infrastructure in these towns, Roche added, also had a negative effect on luring professionals into the industry, as they “will not be persuaded to go to a town where they perceive shortcomings”

He said it was up to the State Government to give back to communities after years of benefiting from the resources industry.

The notion of a national action plan to support the coal industry’s significant commitment to near-zero emission electricity generation technologies was also discussed, with Roche saying it should start with the identification of commercially viable storage sites for carbon dioxide.

“We should not be leaving the task to individual state governments and individual project proponents. We need a nationally coordinated approach to the management of carbon,” Roche said.

“And this plan needs to be seen as urgent with the first of these new carbon capture-ready power plants a likely reality by 2011-12.”

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