Queensland budget delivers funds for abandoned mine safety

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abandoned mines gallery There are currently more than 15,000 identified abandoned mine sites across Queensland abandoned mines gallery

The Queensland government delivered its 2016-17 state budget today, with the Palaszczuk government set to contribute $42 million to the effort to clean up the state’s abandoned mine sites.

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There are currently more than 15,000 identified abandoned mine sites across Queensland, with an estimated 3,500 sites on state-owned land. Most of the sites are small, but there are several hundred medium to large sites where significant smelting and processing was carried out.

The largest abandoned mine site on the list is the former Mount Morgan gold mine, located 32km south-west of Rockhampton in central Queensland.

The move is an unprecedented boost to the Department of Natural Resources and Mines program that had been operating on an annual budget of $6 million.

The project has staff based in Townsville, Rockhampton and Brisbane to address public health and safety issues arising from abandoned mines such as unrestricted access to open mine shafts, ground subsidence in areas of historic mine shafts and underground coal mining areas and pollution from residual mineralised stockpiles on former mine sites.

The major priorities under the plan include mine shaft repair programs at Charters Towers and Gympie, managing ground subsidence issues at Collingwood Park and a gradual assessment and closure of a number of small mine sites.

In April, the Queensland state government also legislated to give the environmental regulator greater powers to pursue companies, entities and individuals who failed to uphold their environmental responsibilities.

"Between these new funds and the recently passed new environmental protection laws the Palaszczuk government has a comprehensive plan to manage existing abandoned mines and avoid the number of abandoned mines increasing," Queensland Environment minister Steven Miles says.

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