AgForce blasts mining changes

QUEENSLAND peak farming group AgForce is once again calling for greater transparency in mining legislation after Minister for Employment, Skills and Mining Stirling Hinchliffe released amendments today that fail to keep landholders fully informed of mining activities on their property.

AgForce policy director Drew Wagner said while the lobby group welcomed the announcement of compulsory reporting requirements, the government’s backflip on the use of Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene and Xylene (BTEX) chemicals in mining activities puts safe food production at risk.

“Today Minister Hinchcliffe reconfirmed a complete ban on the use of BTEX compounds in fraccing activities, a process that uses water pressure combined with specific chemicals to extract underground gas,” Mr Wagner said.

“The truth is the actual legislative amendments included in the Amendment of Environmental Protection Act 1994 shift from a complete ban to allowing companies to use the chemical to a ‘maximum prescribed amount’ that is yet to be set.

“AgForce calls on the government to enforce their originally declared ban on BTEX chemicals, while allowing a threshold for its natural occurrence in testing, rather than allowing companies to add even a prescribed amount of BTEX to the environment as part of their activities.”

Mr Wagner said under the new legislation, companies must give affected landholders at least 10 business days written notice of any drilling, fraccing or certain exploration activities and provide government with a list of all fluids and their potential impacts on water aquifers.

“Unfortunately, companies are not required to inform landholders of what chemicals they will use in their fraccing practices,” Mr Wagner said.

“Cattle and sheep producers are required to sign a legally binding National Vendor Declaration when selling livestock, which ensures all red meat produced for human consumption in Australia is safe, and free from unacceptable levels of chemicals.

“Producers are responsible for being transparent around what chemicals their goods have been exposed to during production, but how can they possibly know what mining companies use in their processes unless they are informed?

“Stringent reporting forms an essential part of striking a balance between resource extraction and food production, and AgForce remains committed to lobbying for policies which preserves the sustainability, profitability and productivity of agriculture.”

Mr Wagner said AgForce again challenged the Queensland Government to secure the future of food and protect underground water by imposing a moratorium on all coal seam gas activities until a legislative framework is developed to eliminate negative environmental impacts.

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