Mines fined for releasing run-off into waterways

MINES have coughed up $30,000 in fines after investigations found 12 coal mines broke environmental conditions 25 times, releasing run-off into Central Queensland waterways this year.

The coalmines, including major operations owned by Anglo American, BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance and the Chinese Government's Yancoal, faced government scrutiny.

Each unauthorised release was in the Fitzroy catchment, a maze of streams and rivers which flow through regional towns including Rockhampton.

Data released to APN by the Queensland Department of Environment on Tuesday showed six companies shared 14 "penalty infringement notices" - fines of $2200.

Some of the world's most powerful mining companies were not immune to the charges.

Anglo American's Callide and German Creek coal mines both copped three fines each.

Yancoal's Yarrabee operation was hit with the same.

BMA was hit with a single fine at Goonyella Riverside while Rio Tinto shared two between its Kestrel and Hail Creek operations.

Peabody also took two fines for its Middlemount and Coppabella sites.

Another four sites earned warnings and seven others avoided punishment.

Anglo's Callide operation was in the spotlight earlier this year after releasing 500 million litres of mine run-off upstream of a rural town's water supply.

Biloela relies on the Callide Dam for its water, but the council was given no information about the run-off entering the reservoir until it was contacted by an APN journalist.

There was no suggestion the water was tainted.

The state insists the run-off was diluted by the size of the dam.

Environment Minister Andrew Powell said fewer mines broke the rules in the latest wet season.

In 2010-11, there were more than 50 incidents of mines releasing water without permission.

Mr Powell said any site breaking the rules was "investigated immediately" by the department.


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