The Australian government’s environmental protections system has been labelled “broken” after Gina Rinehart’s mining company managed to negotiate down both compensation repayments and operating practices.
Information released due to a freedom of information request shows the previous Labour government demanded $800,000 (£446,000) a year in “biodiversity offsets” from mining company GVK Hancock as the environmental damage from its operations were deemed significant.
The company counter offered $375,000 (£209,000) a year and a final sum of $600,000 (£335,000) a year being agreed upon.
This means that the Great Barrier Reef marine park authority has lost out on half of its total donation from the mining company, only leaving $50,000 (£27,000) a year to help prevent environmental damage.
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GVK Hancock has also escaped a stipulation in negotiations regarding the prevention of coal dust from entering the Great Barrier Reef – of which the government has agreed too.
The building of a coal terminal dock adjacent to the reef has attracted a lot of controversy, as environmentalists argue that increased shipping and dredging would pollute the water, affecting the reef’s diverse ecology.
Estimates of the clean-up operation, argue critics, have also been greatly undervalued. New figures obtained by a freedom of information request suggest official estimates are $998 million (£557m) less than the actual figure of $1 billion (£557m).
The Australian environment minister has also admitted that the diverse ecology is already under threat from climate change, with campaigners arguing that the Coal Mine will further effect the sensitive ecology.
Photo source: Paul Toogood via flickr