HV Operations Pty Ltd has entered into an Enforceable Undertaking with the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), paying $400,000 towards environmental land management improvements, following a water pollution incident at an open cut mine in Singleton last year.
EPA Director Operations Metro North Adam Gilligan said the alleged water pollution was a result of rainfall runoff from a rehabilitation slope at the Lemington Road mine being discharged into an adjacent waterway which flows into the Hunter River, an activity that could have been prevented.
“The rainfall caused the sediment-laden water to flow into Farrells Creek through holes in a contour bank in a formerly mined area,” Mr Gilligan said.
“The contour bank was designed to divert water away from the creek but it can’t do this if is not properly maintained and erosion has occurred.”
HV Operations will pay $100,000 to a project on travelling stock reserves in the Singleton area to improve conservation and management of soil erosion.
They are required to develop and implement a remediation plan for an area within the mine site with an estimated cost of $250,000 and conduct an annual inspection of all rehabilitation areas across the mine site, at a cost of around $50,000.
HV Operations is also required to pay the EPA’s legal, investigation and monitoring costs of approximately $30,000.
Enforceable Undertakings are a tool that the EPA can use as an alternative to prosecution. Through an enforceable undertaking, the EPA may secure outcomes such as environmental restoration measures or contributions to environmental projects. The undertaking is enforceable by the Land and Environment Court.
Mr Gilligan said it was determined from water testing and the duration of the incident that there was minimal harm to the environment but it was timely to remind all mines that water management systems must be monitored and checked regularly.
As part of developing and implementing the remediation plan, HV Operations will need to undertake a number of activities including surface water assessments and repairing contour banks.
“Remediation will take several forms including repairing slope erosion, re-seeding the area and undertaking agronomic and surface water assessments.”
As part of the undertaking, HV Operations will place a print media notice about the Enforceable Undertaking in the Newcastle Herald, Sydney Morning Herald and the Singleton Argus and post the notice on its social media channels.