New reports shows mines ill-equipped to cope with floods

AS PARTS of Central Queensland again face a drenching this week, a new report suggests mines were ill-equipped for the flooding in 2008, 2010 and 2011 that inundated their pits.

Despite the heaviest of the rain falling two wet seasons ago, industry sources believe 250,000 mega litres of water is stagnating in Bowen Basin mines west of Mackay and Rockhampton.

The battering those mines and ports received from the weather also cost Queensland up to $5 billion in lost revenue.

A research team from University of Queensland, led by Dr Vigya Sharma, found the industry unprepared for the onslaught of rains after years of dry conditions.

Her team found there was little shared knowledge inside mining companies due to high staff turnover and suggested the community was nervous about the water being expelled from the mines.

The report found available climate data was inadequate and inaccurate for sites to plan properly.

It was not the first time the industry had been questioned on its planning, with Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche telling APN the research was "on the same page" as the Floods Commission of Inquiry.

He said in dryer times, mines had developed systems to collect water, something that worked against them when faced with flooding rains.

Mr Roche said lessons had been learned from Emerald's flooding in 2008, and from the 2010-11 floods that "emptied some 38 million megalitres of water into the ocean".

He estimated half a percent, or 200,000 megalitres, came from mines.

"Every government, industry and business in Queensland has learned some hard lessons from the floods and resources sector companies are certainly better prepared," he said.

A spokeswoman for Anglo American - which holds six operations in Central Queensland - said walls had now been built to keep pits from flooding.

Pumps, piping, upgrading roads, bridges and crossings were also part of its post-flood reconstruction, along with a $25 million dam to store mine water.

Xstrata's spokesman said he knew of the report and the company was responding appropriately.

He said work was being done to ensure mines were waterproof during the wet and dry seasons.

BHP Billiton, Peabody, Wesfarmers, Ensham and Rio Tinto - five firms representing 18 Queensland coal mines - each declined to comment.

Topics:  flooding, mackay, mines, rockhampton



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