CSG mine’s mountain of unwanted salt
Coal seam gas (CSG) mining at just one Queensland site will produce three million tonnes of salt – enough to raise a pile 10 metres high and 11 kilometres long, senators have been told.
A parliamentary committee yesterday took evidence in Canberra looking at the impact of mining CSG on the Murray Darling Basin.
Liberal senator Bill Heffernan told the hearing of the salt produced by one approved Queensland project.
“Eleven-point-three kilometres by 30m wide by 10m high – that’ll be the pile of salt that’ll be produced from this one mining approval,” Senator Heffernan told representatives of the NSW Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services (DTIRIS) attending the hearing.
“This is for you to think about because we don’t want this to happen in NSW – that’s approved under the onerous provisions of the Queensland DERM (Department of Environment and Resource Management).
“I wouldn’t like that on my landscape.”
The DTIRIS director-general, Mark Paterson, said it wasn’t up to him to comment or “pass judgment” on projects approved in other states, but insisted NSW was up to handling any potential negatives of CSG mining.
Salt is a by-product of extracting water during the CSG mining process.
“Agriculture and mining can, and successfully do, co-exist,” Mr Paterson told the Senate committee on Friday.
“They’re two vitally important industries that underpin our modern way of life and together provide enormous benefits.”
Earlier, gas miner Origin Energy told the inquiry that the impacts of CSG on agricultural land were small and manageable.
Origin Energy Australia Pacific CEO Page Maxson said scientific studies had noted that the impact on the Murray Darling Basin would be small.
“All the CSIRO work we have seen is consistent and supportive of our work which says there will be impacts,” Mr Maxson said.
“Some of them will go for quite some time, but they are going to be – in the overall scheme of the basin – relatively minor and manageable.”
Mr Maxson said his company acknowledged community concerns over aspects of the operations of the industry.
“Regrettably, many of these concerns have been filled by claims that either misrepresent industry operating procedures or misrepresent facts, or fail to recognise the technical studies and strict regulatory regime that has been applied to the industry,” he said.
Senator Heffernan said many farmers were not being properly compensated for their losses.
“Some of those guys have dropped a bundle just with a stroke of the government’s pen,” he said.
“They’re fairly emotional and they are bloody well entitled to be.”
Asked about one farmer’s estimate of losing 30 per cent of his land value, Mr Paterson said: “I don’t think that there’s evidence before you, that I’m aware of, senator, where by the stroke of a pen in relation to NSW that that activity has occurred.”
The Senate committee’s final report is due by November 30.