A parliamentary committee will visit Burnie next week as it examines government obligations regarding mining rehabilitation projects.
The state government has made a submission to the inquiry, suggesting the federal government reform accounting standards under the Corporations Act as mine liabilities for specific sites were often unclear.
Resources Minister Guy Barnett said clear financial reporting from mining companies regarding rehabilitation liabilities would help the government set an appropriate security deposit and better inform a project’s level of risk.
Jim Leggate, a former environmental officer in the Queensland Mines Department who blew the whistle on scores of non-compliant mines in that state in the 1990s, now lives in Tasmania and has made a submission to the inquiry.
He said fluctuating mineral prices had more influence over mining than laws and regulations.
“I think it now unlikely any serious rehab will be undertaken by mine owners who will prefer to abandon their leases and forfeit any money tied up in securities (or) bonds or financial assurance,” Mr Leggate said.
“State governments will be left to organise rehab as best they can with the money available from the above.”
Mr Barnett said when a mine temporarily ceased operation, it had to undertake a care and maintenance plan with approval from the Environmental Protection Authority.
“Being in care and maintenance does not release a mine operator from rehabilitation obligations,” he said.
“In fact, there are examples in Tasmania where significant progressive rehabilitation has been earned out during care and maintenance.”