Stagnant water released into river given 'all clear'

AN EXPERIMENTAL test allowing four Central Queensland mines to release stagnant water has made no apparent difference to the quality of the Fitzroy River.

An independent report released by the Queensland Government pilot covering will be presented in Rockhampton on Tuesday.

Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney announced a group of BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance mines as the first subjects of the pilot.

In an excerpt exclusively released to APN, water experts Gilbert & Sutherland described the releases as having "no attributable effect" on parts of the Fitzroy, Isaac, Connors and Mackenize rivers.

Some changes in water quality were recorded in the Isaac River at Deverill, south-east of Moranbah.

The water was saltier while the liquid was being released.

Once discharges finished, levels returned to normal.

Of the four mines involved in the releases, Goonyella-Riverside and Peak Downs both slashed the amount of water in the mines by 17% and 12% respectively.

Saraji and Norwich Park maintained the same level of water in their pits, as more rain fell throughout the summer.

Gilbert & Sutherland suggested all four could have released much more water but opted instead to be cautious and not risk a penalty.

In some parts of the Fitzroy Basin, traces of dissolved oxygen, dissolved manganese, aluminium were beyond healthy guidelines but researchers found no clear link to the mine discharges.

BHP's good behaviour, combined with the lack of impact on water quality and the substantial reduction of water in the mines had the report suggesting the trial was a success.

According to Gilbert & Sutherland, not all data was available at the time of assessment so it could not comment on how water quality was now that the wet season had finished.

The new data follows revelations that 250 gigalitres of water - the equivalent of 2.5 Sydney Harbours - was currently trapped in 36 Queensland mines, hobbling productivity and costing state mining royalties.

Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney will deliver the full report to the Fitzroy Water Quality Advisory Group today.


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