According to a recent report released by the Australian Institute, information is very scarce regarding the clean-up costs for disused mine sites in New Zealand. The report made the attempt to provide analysis on what is happening to the operations, suspensions, closure, rehabilitation and abandonment of mine sites across the state.
Few statistics are available leaving the public in the dark but it seems that it is potentially costing billions of taxpayer’s money. Based on the investigations of the NSW auditor general on the associated risks of the disused mine sites in 2011, the government was warned that the derelict mining program may just represent the largest category of contamination liability for the NSW government.
However, the Australian Institute has said that NSW’s division of energy and resources only showed a single example of a mining site that has been successfully rehabilitated and the other site was already in the last stages of closure. Roderick Campbell, who is the author of the report, warned that as the mining boom wound down the big players like Rio Tinto that was relatively transparent and responsible, was leaving the mining sites to less capable hands of smaller operators who cannot successfully rehabilitate the sites.
Campbell further said that NSW claims that they have assessed the costs of rehabilitation and they have a 100% bond for the amount. This means that taxpayers will not be paying for the rehabilitation costs. In the institute’s report called Dark Side of the Boom, between 112 and 410 were identified as abandoned mining sites with 85 to 109 mines still active and 123 with suspended operations.
So far, there is no example of an open-cut mining site being successfully rehabilitated in spite of the likelihood of at least 45 open-cut voids across NSW. The lack of a concrete example of rehabilitation of an open-cut casts doubt on the effectiveness of any future clean-ups.
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