The Northern Territory has begun a $1 billion clean-up of legacy mines with plans to attract more mining for northern development.
Redbank copper mine, in the Gulf Country, is a legacy mine and has been contaminating Hanrahan’s Creek with toxic water for twenty years.
The mine was open in the 1990s under previous owners but an Environment Protection Agency (EPA) report says it has been leaching toxic water since.
According to an ABC News report, the Northern Territory Government has decided the only way to get Redbank cleaned up is to take over the site, with discussions regarding the lease underway with the current owner, Redbank Copper Ltd.
The company said in a statement the problems at the mine were created under previous owners and that it is working with the Government on remediation.
According to the report, Redbank’s $150,000 security bond to cover damage at the mine will not cover remediation costs, which are estimated to be close to $10 million.
The head of the Government’s Legacy Mines Unit, Mike Fawcett, insisted taxpayers would not pick up the bill. Instead the unit will clean-up the 16 legacy mines using funds from a levy on mining companies introduced two years .
The levy is expected to bring in $10 million this year, but it is estimated that the egacy mine liability is 100 times that amount at $1 billion.
“So $10 million dollar a year — we’re never going to clean all of those up so we’re trying to find smart ways to reduce impacts,” Mr Fawcett told the ABC.
The Redbank Copper Project is located in the Northern Territory McArthur River Basin, 30km from the Queensland border and 70km south of the Gulf of Carpentaria.