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MINE FINED OVER CONTAMINATED WATER DISCHARGE

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As reported by AWA, a mining company in north west Queensland has been fined in the Mount Isa Magistrates Court today for causing serious environmental harm.

Climate Change and Sustainability Minister Kate Jones said MMG Century Limited had pleaded guilty to discharging contaminated wastewater from its zinc and lead mine, about 250km north west of Mount Isa, during last year’s wet season.

MMG Century were fined $130,000 and ordered to pay costs of more than $8,000.

“This prosecution is a serious reminder to the mining industry that they need to take their environmental obligations seriously,” Ms Jones said.

“The Department of Environment and Resource Management will take action against any company that recklessly causes environmental harm.”

MMG Century had been charged under section 430 of the Environmental Protection Act 1994 for contravening a condition of an environmental authority, and also under section 437 for unlawfully causing serious environmental harm.

Century Mine is situated within an area of significant environmental value including the Gregory Wild Rivers area near Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park.

Ms Jones said MMG Century Limited had last year discharged wastewater from the mine into Page Creek.

“Contaminants released into the waterways included cadmium, zinc and dissolved sulphate,” she said.

“As well as being fined $130,000, MMG Century Limited was ordered to pay costs of $8686.96.”

Ms Jones said that in prosecuting the MMG Century Limited, DERM had weighed up the company’s lack of preparation for the heavy wet season against steps that the company had taken to minimise the release of water during the rainfall event.

“The bottom line is, MMG Century Limited should have been better prepared to cope with the heavy rains by prioritising improvement works at the mine,” she said.

MMG owns and manages the Century Mine, which has been operating since 1999.

Ms Jones said today’s ruling was a timely reminder to all mining companies to be ready for wet seasons or face hefty fines.

“Investigations are also continuing into further action against other mines that discharged contaminated water last year,” she said.

“Court action is underway against three other mines in the north west area for water management offences.”