The Queensland Resource Council published the following on the 9th of November 2012.

The peak industry body for the minerals and energy sector in Queensland has welcomed the Newman government’s proposal for the management of salinity arising from flood events affecting coal mines in the Fitzroy River catchment.

The Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning Jeff Seeney announced today that the government would investigate the feasibility of establishing a salinity trading system for the Fitzroy Basin.

Chief Executive of the Queensland Resources Council Michael Roche said he was pleased to see the Newman government taking a scientific approach to the issue of water releases from mines during extraordinary weather events such as that seen in the 2011 wet season.

‘The Bligh government’s mismanagement of the 2011 emergency cost Queensland $9 billion in coal exports and approximately $750 million in royalties that would have gone to pay for public servants and government services,’ said Mr Roche.

‘The feasibility study announced today comes on top of new legislation for managing water in flood emergencies, which was a key recommendation of the Queensland Flood Commission of Inquiry.

‘The Queensland Resources Council will be happy to share the findings of work it commissioned in 2011 on the feasibility of such a scheme.

‘We commissioned the Centre for Water in the Minerals Industry to report on the feasibility of a salinity trading scheme (STS) approach for the Fitzroy, starting with a comparison of the existing Hunter Valley Salinity Trading Scheme in New South Wales.

‘The first stage of the work on the Hunter River STS was completed earlier this year and the second phase is nearing completion.

‘The assessment of Hunter scheme found that it was successful in managing salinity.’

A salinity trading scheme works by allocating participants discharge/release credits, which they use to calculate the percentage of the allowable discharge of saline water into the basin. These credits can be traded amongst the participants according to individual mines’ requirements.

‘I’m very pleased to see that the government will set up a pilot release of water from four mines in the upper Isaac River during the coming wet season,’ said Mr Roche.

‘We look forward to continuing to work with the Newman government to ensure the health of the Fitzroy River system, while minimising the disruption to mining activities as a result of weather events such as in 2011.’”