Queensland's Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) has issued an Environmental Protection Order (EPO) to Uranium Mineral Ventures Incorporated (UMVI) for the Ben Lomond Uranium Mine near Townsville, Australia. 

Environment minister Dr Steven Miles said the EPO will further strengthen safeguards against any release of contaminants at the mine, which is non-operational.

The department’s action comes in response to high levels of contaminants such as arsenic, lead and uranium being measured both on and off the mining lease.

Dr Miles said: “Based on sampling and investigations undertaken by the company and EHP, we know the geology of the area is naturally mineralised and releases contaminants due to natural weathering processes.

"EHP has taken action to ensure that UMVI puts controls in place to prevent release of contaminants from any disturbed areas."

“It has also been identified that disturbed areas at the mine have the potential to release contaminants from the Ben Lomond site to the receiving environment." 

The high readings were measured against conservative water quality criteria of the environmental authority for the Ben Lomond mining site.

Dr Miles stated: “It is important to note the elevated levels were measured both upstream and downstream of the mining project, indicating that there are natural influences on the water quality, as well as potential influences from the mine.

“EHP has taken action, through the EPO, to ensure that UMVI puts appropriate controls in place to prevent the release of contaminants from any of the mine disturbed areas.

“The company needs to develop and implement a scope of works to prevent contaminants being released from the historical mine disturbed areas." 

Over the next 12 months, the EPO requires preventative measures to be performed for the benefit of the surrounding community and environment.

EHP does not have any evidence to indicate there is a risk to the public associated with these readings and is continuing to liaise with health and science experts.

As well as the EPO, UMVI will have to continue to perform all standard monitoring obligations required by the environmental authority.

Dr Miles added: "Under this government, we can assure Queenslanders uranium mining is banned in this state.”

Thuringowa member Aaron Harper said the community had known about the historically disturbed areas at the Ben Lomond site for many years.

Harper added: “The Ben Lomond mining project has never been a producing uranium mine; however, between 1979 and 1981, an adit was driven into the ore body to obtain a bulk sample for metallurgical testing."

Since 1984, the Ben Lomond site has been in care and maintenance and there are no operational activities on site.