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Copper mine cops fine over river contamination

Operators of the Baal Gammon copper mine, west of Herberton in Qld, pleaded guilty to three charges last Thursday, relating to the unauthorised release of contaminated water into Jamie Creek and the Walsh River during the 2011/12 wet season.

The company, Kagara, was fined $120,000 for contravening an environmental protection order, unlawfully causing material environmental harm, and breaching a condition of the mine’s Environmental Authority.

High concentrations of heavy metals, including copper, cadmium and arsenic were identified in JamieCreek and WalshRiver after the unauthorised release. Nearby residents where advised not to drink water from the WalshRiver at the time.

Qld Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection Andrew Powell urged the resources industry to ensure any water releases comply with environmental standards ahead of the traditional ‘wet season’.

“The resources industry as a whole has done a significant amount of work in relation to water management and we are seeing improvements,” Mr Powell said.

However, Mr Powell warned that any company which fails to meet high environmental standards will face severe penalties.

“The unauthorised release of mine affected or contaminated water into creeks and streams is a serious offence,” he said.

“Authority holders are responsible for their mine even when another company, acting under the environment authority, manages the day to day operations at the site.

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