Rehabilitation of over 50,000 abandoned mines in Australia to hit taxpayers

Rehabilitation of over 50,000 abandoned mines in Australia to hit taxpayers

Mount Morgan gold, silver and copper mine, which is now filled with contaminated water. (Image courtesy of State Library of Queensland)

An expert from the University of Queensland's Sustainable Minerals Institute is warning Australian taxpayers they will be left with a bill running into tens of billions of dollars unless the government starts taking mine rehabilitation seriously.

According to environmental scientist Peter Erskine there currently are more than 50,000 abandoned mines in the country, a legacy of the early mining days when firms simply walked away once the profits dried up, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports.

He said the situation in Queensland is particularly worrisome as there hasn't been a mine closed in the state for the past 33 years. What’s more, Erskine claims the government doesn't want to take on the risk of a closed mine, adding that the industry is reluctant to spend the money required to safely close an operation.

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