An environmental report into the management of heavy mineral sands mining in Western Australia has found the industry's performance had substantially improved, according to Mines Minister George Cash.
Mr Cash said the extensive progress in environmental controls had occurred despite a commercial downturn in the industry over the last five years.
The report followed the Minerals Environmental Liaison Committee's reassessment of the environmental practices adopted by the heavy mineral sands industry and would be open for public review for three months.
Mr Cash said the sub-committee had reviewed the recommendations of the 1987 working party on Conservation and Rehabilitation in the mining industry and found marked improvements in environmental management had been made in recent years.
The sub-committee also found that:
+ rehabilitation of new mines was good;
+ innovative techniques had been introduced to treat difficult sites; and -
+ controls to limit the spread of jarrah dieback was fully appreciated by the industry.
Mr Cash said the majority of old heavy mineral sands minesites had been rehabilitated or were programmed for mining and subsequent rehabilitation.
"However, controlling windblown sand from minesites and determining cost-effective means of rehabilitating clay tailings are ongoing problems where the industry has been urged to continue their research program," he said.
The report recommends that minesite rehabilitation retain any rock exposures which could be of educational, cultural or scientific value.
"In addition, where mining of reserved land is proposed it may be appropriate for the mining company to purchase land of equivalent biological value and transfer that land back to the State," Mr Cash said.
"In relation to post mining land use, when operations have ceased, the industry is now being urged to decide on the future outcome before mining begins."
Copies of the report `Conservation and Rehabilitation in the Heavy Mineral Sands Mining Industry 1994' were available free of charge from Mineral House in Perth and from the Department's Collie office.
Public submissions close on August 4 and a final report was expected to be presented to the State Government in October.
Media contact: Mark Thompson 222 9595