Ensham seeks to discharge water

One of the $1.5 million floating pumps that drained Ensham mine in 2008.
One of the $1.5 million floating pumps that drained Ensham mine in 2008.

ENSHAM Resources has confirmed its application to release 20,000 megalitres of pit water into the Nogoa River across a three year period.

Yesterday, the coal mining company confirmed it had lodged an application for a Transitional Environmental Program with the Department of Environment and Resource Management.

The proposed TEP would commit Ensham to similar conditions to those under a TEP that was granted by DERM in 2010, which saw 7000ML of water released into the Nogoa River with no reported environmental harm, a statement from the company said.

In 2008 the Central Highlands was subject to major health scares after Ensham pumped huge amounts of floodwater into the Fitzroy River catchment.

But the company says it is operating under very different circumstances now, and pointed to safe releases that have occurred since 2008.

"Last year's water releases caused no problems with water quality. Our aim is to achieve the same outcome by releasing water under much the same conditions," Ensham chief executive Peter Westerhuis said.

A company spokesman said as part of the TEP application, Ensham would undertake downstream dilution modelling to ensure there would be no risk to the domestic water supply and that water quality remained well within the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines of 2004.

The proposal is also subject to a strict minimum flow rate in the Nogoa River, which the company said would provide suitable dilution for releases of up to 300ML a day.

If the flow rate was to fall below the minimum approved level, water releases would be suspended.

"This will allow for a significant volume of natural flushing flow to continue through the system after releases have been suspended, ensuring downstream water quality is not impacted," the spokesman said.

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