New South Wales EPA uncovers illegal tyre dumps at coal mines
Mine Operators Dump Tyres Illegally
The New South Wales Environmental Protection Agency has uncovered six large mining tyre dumps at locations in New South Wales. The dumps were created without a licence and further action is being taken.
EPA finds tyres were buried at six north-west New South Wales coalmines without a licence.
The investigation began last year and each of the mines has now been issued with a caution.
The NSW Environment Protection Authority concluded an investigation into the practice, after it received a report in 2020 that this was happening at a mine in the Namoi region.
Its Steven Budgen, EPA director of regulatory operations said the EPA had found "instances of tyres being buried without necessary licence conditions at various times between 2014 and 2020.
"While no environmental harm was found to have occurred, the EPA issued official cautions to all six of the open-cut coalmines we investigated," Mr Budgen said.
The finding has frustrated local residents, who have argued the method of disposal poses a risk to the surrounding environment and to their water source.
Maules Creek resident and CWA branch president Libby Laird said the EPA's conclusion was a relief, after the community had alerted the authority to the practice.
But, she said, she would have liked to have seen a harsher penalty.
"A caution is important. I think a prosecution would be a better strategy to [establish] a deterrent."
Australian Tyre Recyclers' Association executive officer Robert Kelman criticised the EPA for not handing the mines a harsher penalty.
"While the rest of society — and our economy — pays for their waste to be removed and processed, the mining industry appears to be enabled by the EPA to simply dump this material on-site," Mr Kelman said.
"If recycling rather than dumping these used mining tyres made the mining company a profit, they'd do it."