The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP
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Joint Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Queensland Minister for Natural Resources, Mines & Energy
4 April 2004
The community of the old mining town of Mt Morgan will benefit from reduced risk of further pollution of the local Dee River, following the announcement of more than $2 million in joint Australian and Queensland Government funding approved under the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality.
The funding was announced today by Australian Ministers for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Warren Truss, Environment and Heritage, David Kemp; and State Member for Fitzroy, Jim Pearce, representing Queensland Natural Resources, Mines & Energy Minister, Stephen Robertson.
Mr Truss said the funds would enable the construction of a water treatment plant at Mt Morgan to prevent further pollution of the Dee River and downstream River systems.
Gold, copper and silver were mined for more than 100 years at Mt Morgan from the early 1880s to the early 1990s. The Dee River is polluted for approximately 20kms past the mine because of seepage and runoff from the site. The water treatment plant aims to prevent an overflow from the pit which would see significant pollution extending past this initial 20km range.
"Without this water treatment plant, a major rainfall event at Mt Morgan could cause an overflow from the mine's open cut pit, which could dramatically worsen and extend the impacts of acid flow from the mine site open pit, downstream. That could have devastating consequences on the Dee and downstream r iver systems.
"The water treatment plant will reduce that risk of an overflow from the open cut pit, from 50 per cent to less than one per cent," he said.
"This project will involve pumping water from the pit to the treatment plant, neutralising it with hydrated lime and then releasing the treated water to a point outside the mine site. The plant will operate at targeted levels, although these can be increased if exceptional rainfall raises risks of overflows."
Dr Kemp said that when he visited the site in July 2002, the local community, councils and landcare groups impressed upon him how urgent the need was to address the serious risks associated with seepage and overflow from the open pit.
"As a result, the Australian and Queensland Governments are investing in a cost-effective solution," he said.
"The project has been approved in advance of the regional Natural Resource Management plan being finalised for the Fitzroy Basin region. I look forward to the completion of that plan and investment strategy, to identify other priorities to be considered for joint government funding."
State Member for Fitzroy, Jim Pearce, said a comprehensive plan was already underway to rehabilitate the site, but this would have taken many years and would not have prevented the risk of serious, additional pollution problems caused by any overflows from the open cut pit in the meantime.
"This funding is in response to what was presented as a high community priority," he said.
"Preventing the risk of overflow from the open cut pit will benefit landholders and communities downstream from Mt Morgan, who use the water for domestic supply as well for productive and profitable agricultural uses. Local aquatic habitats and wetlands will also benefit."
Mr Pearce said the Queensland Government had spent about $8.5 million on the Mt Morgan site since it took over its management in the early 1990s. Additional state government funding is currently being finalised.
"This funding of the water treatment plant will be an important and complementary activity to the remediation work already being carried out," he said.
Under the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality, the Australian and State governments plan to invest a total of $162 million in Queensland.
For more information on the Mt Morgan water treatment project phone Barbara Wildin, Chair of the Fitzroy Basin Association, on (07) 4921 2843.
More information on the National Action Plan is available at: www.napswq.gov.au