Monday, February 12, 2007

BHP: 30 million litres of water per day for free - despite $8 billion 6 month profit

February 7, 2007 : Free water despite $8 billion 6 month profit

On the back of this morning's announcement of a 6 month profit of $8billion, Greens MLC Mark Parnell has called on BHP Billiton to start paying for water from the Great Artesian Basin as part of a complete renegotiation of the special deal that the Roxby Downs mine receives...
Mr Parnell says most Australians struggling with water restrictions would be very upset to learn that a company making an $8 billion profit in just 6 months is getting 30 million litres of water a day for free.

"BHP Billiton is laughing all the way to the bank - not only do they get special exemptions from a whole range of laws, they have an ridiculously generous deal on water," said Mr Parnell.

Since 1982, the Roxby Downs Indenture Act has granted extraordinary and unique exemptions from basic South Australian regulations and laws that all other miners and developers are required to follow. These include the South Australian Freedom of Information, Environment Protection, and Natural Resource Management Acts.

"On the back of the proposed massive expansion of the mine, and the switch to an open cut process, it is time to renegotiate the whole deal. Everything in the 1982 Roxby Downs Indenture Act should be back on the table, including water," he said.

The Roxby Downs mine is the single biggest user of water from the Great Artesian Basin, and the largest single-site industrial user of underground water in the Southern Hemisphere. When asked specifically by Phil Coorey of the Sydney Morning Herald about the amount of Great Artesian Basin water the Olympic Dam mine is using, and is likely to use in its expansion, John Howard stated last week that 'everybody's got to make a contribution to solving this problem'.

"Even John Howard has called for caps and pricing on Great Artesian Basin water, yet the Rann government still continues to give millions of litres of water away free every single day. This has got to stop," said Mark Parnell.

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