QAL environmental evaluation ordered

THE Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) has ordered Queensland Alumina Limited (QAL) to conduct an environmental evaluation of their Red Mud Dam operation.

The order came after DERM received a number of complaints from fisherman about the discharge water quality from the dam.

Regional Services Director, Central West Region for DERM Joe Pappalardo said departmental officers conducted water quality monitoring last week and collected samples for testing.

"The department will continue to monitor water quality at the site and hold ongoing meetings with QAL while the environmental evaluation is being conducted," Mr Pappalardo said.

Red mud is a by-product of bauxite from alumina refining and is sometimes called bauxite slurry.

Bauxite residue is mixed with salt water and pumped to the dam where the red mud is allowed to settle.

The neutralising effect of mixing sea water with the red mud helps conserve fresh water and is meant to ensure any excess water discharged into marine environments from the red mud dam outfall has a negligible environmental impact.

A QAL spokesperson said QAL is working with DERM to comply with the requirements of the evaluation.

"All QAL outfalls are monitored continuously for various parameters with real time data available for management of water quality. In addition routine sampling is also undertaken to ensure compliance with our development approval," the spokesperson said.

"The water outflow at the QAL Residue Disposal Area has been treated as per licence conditions set by the Department of Environment and Resource Management."