Spontaneous combustion at Blair Athol.
Spontaneous combustion at Blair Athol.

Greens groups upset about finalisation of Blair Athol sale

ENVIRONMENTAL groups are not happy now the sale of Blair Athol mine has been finalised.

TerraCom Limited made the announcement to the ASX today.

The Daily Mercury reported Rio Tinto's Blair Athol mine near Clermont was likely to sell to Orion Mining, a wholly owned subsidiary of TerraCom on July 4 this year.

Terracom issued a press release at the time that said the acquisition price was $1.

This is what was announced to the ASX:

Meanwhile Mackay Conservation Group has been pressuring Rio Tinto to live up to its corporate responsibility and complete rehabilitation of the mine.

On 4 July, Rio Tinto announced that it had agreed to sell the mine to the small, heavily indebted mining company, TerraCom for $1.

Rio Tinto also agreed to pay the Queensland Government $80 million in cash to cover the estimated cost of rehabilitating the mine.

"In the past couple of months we have received a leaked copy of the Department of Environment & Heritage Protection's report on the bond at Blair Athol," Mackay Conservation Group co-ordinator, Peter McCallum said.

"That report shows that there is a shortfall of $20 million in the current bond.

"Industry insiders tell us that the real cost of rehabilitating the site is likely to exceed $160 million.

"It seems that Rio Tinto has pulled the wool over the eyes of TerraCom investors and is about to offload huge liability on a company with limited financial resources and huge debts."

"We're calling on the state government to block the sale of Blair Athol to TerraCom in the same way they blocked the sale to Linc Energy a few years back."

"Rio Tinto must accept that it made the money mining Blair Athol and it must take the responsibility for cleaning up the mess."

TerraCom Limited recently announce that it had operational losses in 2015/16 of $17.5 million.

Over the past five years the company has had operational losses totalling nearly $150 million.

"In the current market it is unlikely that TerraCom will make sufficient profits to ensure that the mine can be fully rehabilitated to a state that is acceptable to the Queensland community," Mr McCallum said.

"Rio Tinto on the other hand has set aside billions of dollars for rehabilitation and they should spend some of those funds creating jobs in Central Queensland."

The Queensland Greens have called on Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to block the deal in order to secure mine rehabilitation jobs and stop Rio Tinto shirking its responsibilities. Queensland Greens spokesperson Andrew Bartlett said.

"It's clear that Rio Tinto is trying to offload this toxic asset for $1 so they can dodge their legal obligation to rehabilitate," he said.

"Dodging rehab obligations is just as bad as multinational tax avoidance.  

"Premier Palaszczuk must stand up to big mining companies like Rio Tinto who are trying to dodge their responsibilities to clean up their own mess.  

"Our regional communities need to know that mining rehabilitation jobs are secured, which is why the Queensland Greens are calling on Labor to block this dodgy deal.  

"If Labor lets Rio Tinto get away with this, they will be selling out our regional communities and the local environment, since abandoned mines leave toxic scars across our landscape.    

"Analysis from Lock the Gate has shown that coal mine rehabilitation across the Bowen Basin could create 2,000 - 3,000 jobs for many years to come, which would be a great start for the transition away from coal.  

"There are highly credible reports that Rio has not provided enough financial assurance to cover the full cost of rehabilitation, meaning future rehab jobs will be sacrificed."



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