The chief executive of a small shire in Western Australia is calling on the state government to prioritise the rehabilitation of the land which major mining works have damaged.
Peter Fitchat from Dundas Shire explained that the region has several abandoned mine sites.
“The big ones that are a concern are still exposed, that cause dust, there’s asbestos on these sites, there’s contamination, there’s arsenic and old processors,” he said.
The Western Australian Mine Minister, Bill Johnson, has said there was $219,493,000 in the Mining Rehabilitation Fund (MRF), which is almost ten years old.
For the FY 19-20, only $312,000 of that money was spent.
According to the Department of Mining, Industry Regulation and Safety, there are more than 190,000 abandoned mine features in the state.
Adam Cross, who works for the Curtin University’s Centre for Mine Site Restoration, has said abandoned mines were a hazard.
“Mining creates materials that are among the most challenging for plants and animals to recolonise naturally,” Dr Cross said.
“Landforms like waste rock dumps and tailings can erode over time and their dust can contain particles and heavy metals and other compounds that can be harmful for plants and animals, even for us.
“We need to consider the cumulative impacts of mining, a concept that’s been described as ‘death by 1,000 cuts’ where one mine in one region might not have a huge impact, but 100 mines in that same area begins to fragment the ecosystem and the outcomes can be catastrophic.”