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Miner fined $1m over Blue Mountains spill

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July 17, 2017

A mine operator has been fined more than $1 million over a Blue Mountains coal spill.

A mine operator has been fined more than $1 million after spilling more than two hundred tonnes of coal material into the Blue Mountains National Park.

Clarence Colliery has also been ordered to advertise its offences in several newspapers after Justice John Robson found the company caused damage to the park's vegetation, sand and soil during the July 2015 mine spill.

An unnamed watercourse leading into the national park was covered in coal material with plants and animals smothered, and some of the mine waste made its way 10.3 kilometres down the Wollangambe River.

The judge, in a Land and Environment Court sentence published on Friday, noted the company took immediate action to lessen the environmental harm of its offences and spent more than $2 million on the clean-up effort.

By July 2016 about 214 tonnes of coal fines had been recovered from the national park.

However, Justice Robson said Clarence Colliery was negligent by failing to install flood lights, sensors or alarms in certain areas, failing to provide contractors with appropriate training and failing to ensure they properly inspected the cell holding the coal material.

The mine operator is owned by several companies with Centennial Coal owning an 85 per cent share, according to its website.

The company previously pleaded guilty to negligently causing the escape of coal fines slurry and course reject material into the environment, and causing damage in the Blue Mountains National Park.

Justice Robson took the guilty plea into account in sentencing, along with the company's lack of prior convictions, its remorse and the need for general deterrence.

In addition to fines totalling $1,050,000, Clarence Colliery must pay investigation costs of $106,010 as well as its prosecutors' legal costs.

Office of Environment and Heritage Chief Executive Anthony Lean said in a statement: "This penalty sends a clear message to the community that companies unlawfully causing damage to a park will pay a high price for their actions."

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