The world's second largest mining company, Rio Tinto, has owned the Blair Athol mine for over 30 years. During the resources boom Rio Tinto made huge profits from the mine. In 2012 Blair Athol was closed and Rio Tinto promised to complete the rehabilitation of the mine within five years. No rehabilitation has been undertaken since 2012.
Instead Rio Tinto has tried to offload its rehabilitation liability by selling the mine to small mining companies with few assets. On 4 July 2016 it was announced that TerraCom Ltd would purchase the mine for $1.00 and accept responsibility for cleaning up the remaining 1166 hectares of land that Rio Tinto has degraded. TerraCom has a huge debt burden, few assets and no known expertise in rehabilitating mine sites.
A financial assurance of $79 million has been lodged with the Qld Government by Rio Tinto to cover the cost of rehabilitation. However, industry insiders estimate the true cost of cleaning up the site to be in excess of $160 million and possibly $300 million.
The Queensland minister for Natural Resources and Mines, Dr Anthony Lynham, is responsible for deciding whether Rio Tinto will be able to offload its rehabilitation liability onto a small company that is unlikely to be able to clean up the Blair Athol site. Minister Lynham must block this sale and demand that Rio Tinto commence rehabilitation immediately as required under their mining licence.
Dr Anthony Lynham
Minister for Natural Resources and Mines
The cost of rehabilitating the Blair Athol mine is likely to be well in excess of the $79 million financial assurance currently held by the government. Rio Tinto's attempt to sell the mine to a minor player in the resource industry is merely an attempt to avoid the full cost of rehabilitating the mine site.
We urge you to block Rio Tinto's attempt to sell the Blair Athol mine to TerraCom Ltd.