Mining company to rehabilitate land

THE company that was hoping to carry out oil shale mining in the Whitsundays will rehabilitate the land where the works were carried out.

The issue of oil shale mining became a hot issue in the Whitsundays last year with many in the community opposing it.

Queensland Energy Resources (QER) had carried out exploratory works on the McFarlane deposit - about 15km south of Proserpine.

Following community pressure, Premier Anna Bligh announced in August last year that there would be 20 year moratorium on all mining activities and exploration over the McFarlane deposit.

This week, QER has announced that it has reached an agreement with the Queensland Government regarding a method for rehabilitating the land.

CEO and Managing Director of QER, Pearce Bowman, said QER had determined the most appropriate course of action was to undertake a complete backfill of the box cut.

“The box cut has provided oil shale test materials over the past 28 years without causing any environmental harm, but given the suspension of activities during the current moratorium, the company has decided the most appropriate option for us to undertake at this time is to backfill the pit,” he said.

“This action satisfies QER's primary objective, which is to create a self-sustaining, stable ecosystem, and also clearly meets the requirements and expectations of the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management, and the landholder.”

The rehabilitation work will start within weeks.

QER could not confirm when the works would be completed but a spokesperson said it would be a lengthy process.

Community group Save Our Foreshore, who led the campaign against oil shale mining last year, has welcomed the decision that the land will be rehabilitated.

President of Save our Foreshore, Suzette Pelt, said the sooner it happened the better.

"We have asked the Department why work could not be done prior to the next wet season, when the risk over overflowing into nearby catchments is clearly highest,” she said.

“The Department advises that the treatment of the acid water so that it is able to be pumped out takes time and they have assured us that the process will be appropriately monitored.”

Ms Pelt said that while the Whitsundays had a 20 year protection against this mining, QER had recently applied to the Government to re-open their plant in Gladstone.

“This was the site of the first experimental plant which devastated the health, homes and livelihoods of the entire community of Targinie,” Ms Pelt said.

“Save Our Foreshore is concerned that other areas still have the potential to be harmed by this industry.”

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