The report of the Senate inquiry into mine rehabilitation was unable to come to majority recommendations, with the major parties clearly working in the interests of mining companies over the Australian people, say the Australian Greens.
The Committee worked for two years on the inquiry and visited communities impacted by mining across the country. It heard from community members, state and territory governments, independent experts, and the mining industry, and developed a very clear body of evidence showed the huge problems Australia faces cleaning up and rehabilitating closed mines.
“We expected the Coalition Senators’ position to be weak, but to have a response comprising only one recommendation from Labor is appalling," said Senator Janet Rice, Australian Greens Senator and Chair of the Senate Environment and Communications References Committee.
"The idea that we should kick this into another review after two years of thorough work by the Committee is staggering and must cast suspicion over an incoming Labor Government’s environmental reform agenda."
“It’s outrageous that the Labor and Coalition senators decided not to support any of the Greens recommendations, particularly those requiring strong national standards to ensure that mines are properly closed, rehabilitated and paid for by mine operators, not Australian taxpayers.”
“It’s clear the Labor party doesn’t want to anger their corporate donors in the mining industry so close to an election.”
“It’s a business as usual approach that will see more communities suffer the environmental and social consequences of closed mines that aren’t properly rehabilitated, like the traditional owners of the former uranium mine site in Rum Jungle in the Northern Territory.”
“Why should Australian taxpayers foot the bill to restore mine areas when big mining companies make massive profits off the back of resources the Australian people own?”
“The reason Labor and the Coalition don’t want to sign up to the Greens very sensible recommendations is because they work for corporations, not Australians. Labor and the Coalition have taken millions in donations from the mining industry in return for favourable policy decisions.”
The Greens recommendations include:
the federal government funding a complete national inventory of current and abandoned mine sites, and creating national standards that mining companies must adhere to.
Requiring mining companies to provide upfront funding to pay for the cost of rehabilitation once a mine closes. This is to be based on evidence, full cost of site rehabilitation and verified by open and transparent means, including independent audit.
Enforceable national progressive rehabilitation targets for mining operations, aimed at maximising the area of rehabilitation during a mine's operational life.
Amending the Corporations Act and Australian Accounting Standards to ensure mining companies account for and report on financial liabilities for mine closure on a site-by-site basis.
Amending current environmental law to ensure that mines have the lowest impact on matters of national environmental significance, including the submission of a full life of mine and closure plan at the approvals stage before a project can go ahead.