Capricorn Conservation Council - Policies on mining.

1. CCC supports the phasing out of the use of non-renewable energy sources and their replacement with energy from renewable sources as long as their use involves no significant adverse environmental effects.
Issue  Non-renewable energy sources such as coal and oil are finite resources that cannot provide a sustainable source of energy into the future.  In addition they generate greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.  For these reasons they should be replaced by renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal.
Solution Adopt a greenhouse reduction target that equitably contributes to stabilising global atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions and then reduces these to pre-industrial levels (280-300 ppm) as soon as possible. Queensland must contribute responsibly and proportionally to this national target.

The government should establish a 100% renewable energy target for Queensland. The Queensland Renewable Energy Plan must be upgraded to include minimum mandatory targets for the uptake of wind, solar and, geothermal energy sources to a minimum of 40% by 2020. This applies a similar approach to the implementation of the 18% by 2020 gas scheme.

The Federal Government Renewable Energy Target legislation (2009) requires that 20% of Australia’s electricity supply comes from renewable energy sources by 2020. 

As part of achieving a 100% renewable target, the government should set a phase out date for coal-fired electricity generation in Queensland and shift any support and investment into renewables.

2. CCC does not consider nuclear power to be a renewable energy source and calls for the Government to maintain the Nuclear Facilities Prohibition Act 2007 that bans nuclear power and waste dumping and introduce a legislative ban on uranium mining and exploration in Queensland.
Issue Nuclear power generates radioactive waste that has a half life of hundreds of thousands of years and poses a threat to all life forms on earth.  It should not be use for any form of power generation in Australia or overseas.  
Solution Australia should stop the mining and exportation of uranium.

3. CCC supports a gradual halt to the approval for new coal mines that is commensurate with the availability of viable renewable energy sources.
Issue  Power generation produces some 40% of our CO2 emissions worldwide and 71% of these emissions are from coal fired power stations.  As renewable energy replaces coal as a source for power generation there is no need to allow the continued approval of new coal mines.
Solution Initiate a knock on effect for the approval of new coal mines.  If there is to be a minimum 20% increase in renewable energy sources by 2020 there should be a 20% reduction in approval for new coal mines.

4. CCC opposes the development of any new coal mines and expansion of existing mines on arable land that is used for food or crop production on the basis that such land cannot be returned to productivity after mining.
Issue  Arable land is essential for food production and should not be utilised for any form of open cut coal mining.
Solution Prohibit open cut mining on arable land that is currently used or can be used for the sustainable production of food or crops excluding livestock.

5. CCC opposes the development of any new coal mines and expansion of existing mines on land that is declared for conservation such as nature refuges, wetlands, reserves, where a threatened species has been identified or where it can be shown that mining activities will have a detrimental effect on a threatened species.  Furthermore, it supports the enactment of legislation that will protect such areas from any form of mining or development.
Issue  Land that has been declared for any conservation purpose with the exception of a National Park has no protection to prevent it from being substantially degraded or destroyed by mining.  The landscape is irrevocably damaged by mining activities and the values for which the land was declared for conservation are permanently lost.
Solution Enact legislation that provides permanent protection for any land that has been declared for conservation such as nature refuges, wetlands, reserves, where a threatened species has been identified or where it can be shown that mining activities will have a detrimental effect on a threatened species.

6. CCC calls for all mines to fill and rehabilitate final voids, ramps and similar degraded areas.
Issue Final voids, ramps and other degraded areas are often left at the end of mining activities as they are not required to be rehabilitated.  The Environmental Protection Act 1994, Guideline 18 Rehabilitation Requirements for Mining Projects requires that ‘a mining company should develop site-specific rehabilitation strategies’ but does not require that final voids, ramps and other degraded areas are rehabilitated.  Rather it is left to the mining company to propose their rehabilitation strategies. CCC commends both the rehabilitation efforts made by individual companies, and the sharing of knowledge by the Central Queensland Mining Rehabilitation Group.  However the question of final voids and ramps has been neglected for too long and undermines the good work done elsewhere on mine sites.
Solution Enact legislation amendment to the Environmental Protection Act 1994 that requires all land that is subjected to mining including final voids, ramps and other degraded areas is returned a safe and usable condition.  In addition the land should be revegetated with species native to the area and contoured to allow for natural drainage with minimum erosion in accordance with the Commonwealth of Australia publication Leading Practice Sustainable Development Program for the Mining Industry (2006).

7. CCC supports the gradual closure of existing coal mines provided that adequate compensation, relocation of families and support for affected communities is provided.
Issue As renewable energy sources replace fossil fuels such as coal, existing coal mines could be closed on a gradual basis that is in proportion with these changes.
Solution If there is to be a minimum 20% increase in renewable energy sources by 2020 there should be a 20% reduction in the total mix of approval for new coal mines and the closure of existing coal mines.
The closure of any existing coal mine should provide adequate compensation, relocation of families and support for affected communities.

8. CCC opposes landscape re-design to accommodate mining, for example the re-direction of water courses.
Issue  Mining impacts heavily on the landscape and landscape re-design such as the re-direction of water courses only amplifies that impact.  Water courses create ecosystems that include riparian vegetation and aquatic communities and these are destroyed when a water course is re-directed.
Solution Prohibit the re-direction of any identified water course such as a creek or river to accommodate mining operations.

9. CCC supports Carbon Capture and Storage research and development when it is funded by the coal industry or final users of coal. It is an emerging and unproven technology which may or may not offer long term solutions to climate change. It should not take government funding from the development and implementation of renewable energies, or reduce incentives offered to these climate change solutions.
Issue  Clean coal technology for power generation has the potential to greatly reduce CO2.  However, it is extremely unlikely to provide significant reduction of CO2 in the medium term.
Solution Enact legislation to require that all new power stations use clean coal technology and that all existing power stations are retrofitted with clean coal technology as soon as it is available.


10. CCC acknowledges that there is currently no known alternative for coke as a reduction agent to produce iron from iron ore and that the use of coking coal will be required for some considerable time.  However, every effort should be made to find a renewable energy source and the research required to find a solution to this problem is encouraged.
Issue  The use of coking coal for the production of iron constitutes 70% of Queensland’s export coal and as such far outweighs the export of thermal coal.  Finding an alternative renewable energy source would have a significant impact on CO2 emissions.
Solution Establish a research project team that is funded from coal royalties that can investigate and identify renewable sources of energy for the production of iron.

11. CCC supports a target of a 40% generation of power from renewable energy sources by 2020.
Issue  The Federal Government Renewable Energy Target legislation (2009) requires that 20% of Australia’s electricity supply comes from renewable energy sources by 2020.  While this is a step in the right direction it nevertheless falls short of the 40% required to limit a climate change temperature rise to 3 degrees.
Solution Encourage the government to adopt a 40% renewable energy target and the electricity industry to adopt renewable energy strategies that would result in the achievement of a 40% target.  For example Ergon Energy has a Clean Energy program that has 60,000 subscribers using electricity generated from wind, hydro and biomass.

12. CCC requires that any environmental monitoring data collected by mining companies be made available in the public domain.
Issue  Environmental monitoring data collected by mining companies, such as water and air quality, are a valuable source of information about mining activities and their impact on the environment.
Solution Enact legislation that requires all environmental monitoring data to be made available in the public domain upon request.

13. CCC requires that a fund be established from coal mining royalties for the rehabilitation of old or abandoned mines.  The examples of rehabilitation at Mt Morgan and Croydon should be applied across the state for the effective implementation of the abandoned mine land program.
Issue  Old and abandoned mines are often repositories of highly toxic water, open and unsafe pits and subsidence etc.  They are generally locations of environmental degradation and pose a hazard to public safety.
Solution Establish a fund from mining royalties that can be used to rehabilitate all abandoned mines in Queensland under the state wide Abandoned Mine Land program.

14. CCC supports full consultation and cooperation between native title holders and mining companies before, during and after mining operations that will identify and preserve any site of cultural or heritage value on a mining lease.  In addition any other site of cultural or heritage value should be identified and protected.
Issue  The traditional owners of land and Australians in general have every right to expect that any site of cultural or heritage value is preserved and protected.  
Solution Require mining companies to enter into full and transparent consultation with traditional land owners with respect to the identification and preservation of any site of cultural or heritage value.  In general the requirements of the Queensland Heritage Act (1992) should apply and places with significant cultural or heritage value should be placed on the Heritage Register.

15. CCC supports full consultation and cooperation with land owners adjacent to the mining lease with regards to air pollution, water runoff, noise pollution, visual pollution, offsets and other issues that may impact on neighbouring properties.
Issue  Mining will have impacts on properties adjacent to the mining lease and while most of these impacts will be accommodated in an EIS it is nevertheless incumbent upon a mining company to consult neighbouring land owners with regard to any specific concerns and issues.
Solution Require mining companies to provide evidence that full consultation with neighbouring land owners has taken place, the issues that were raised and actions that will or have been taken.

16. CCC supports the requirement that mining companies are responsible for the long term maintenance of rehabilitated land after mining operations have ceased.  This would include restoration of subsided land, treatment of acid sulphate soils exposed due to erosion etc.
Issue  The current situation with mine rehabilitation is that once a Certificate of Surrender has been issued by the EPA (DERM), it effectively transfers future liabilities at the site from the mining company to the State and in some cases to the landowner.  This is unacceptable since there may be long term consequences of mining,  such as subsidence, that are not apparent until well after the Certificate of Surrender has been issued.
Solution Amend the Environmental Protection Act (1994) to make mining companies liable for the rehabilitation of any environmental impact for a period of 20 years after a Certificate of Surrender has been issued.

17. CCC supports the development of a whole of mine emissions plan that initiates short and long term actions to reduce CO2 emissions.
Issue  Mines are large users of energy for the operation of mining equipment and infrastructure.  This includes electricity and oil that results in substantial emissions of CO2.  
Solution Require that each mine develops a whole of mine emissions plan that sets targets for either reduced consumption or more efficient consumption of energy that result in a reduction of CO2 emissions.

18. CCC requires mining companies to include environmental education as part of their training program to educate staff about the sustainable use of environmental resources at both an industrial and a personal level.
Issue  The education of staff in the sustainable use of environmental resources is a powerful way to change personal habits that will result in substantial benefits.  This is especially true when these measures are backed by company policy. 
Solution Include environmental education with regard to the sustainable use of resources in both induction and annual refresher training.