Coal mine fined for consent breaches

A Canterbury coal mine has been fined $10,500 for causing sediment to run into a waterway.

Bathurst Coal Limited was issued 14 infringement notices for unconsented sediment runoff from its mine at Bush Gully Road, Coalgate, into the Waianiwaniwa River, which ultimately flows into Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere.

The mine had undergone development from autumn this year which had created significant areas of exposed soil, and sediment and erosion controls were not fully established on site before the redevelopment.

Selwyn Waihora zone manager Michaela Rees said this was a very serious issue as the mine had breached the Resource Management Act 1991, and in doing so potentially affected the habitat of the region’s most threatened fish species – the Canterbury mudfish – which is also taonga to Ngāi Tahu.

“This left the waterways or streams vulnerable as there was inadequate protection in place to manage the risk of sediment run-off during a large rainfall event, of which there have been several this year,” she said.

After each heavy rainfall during winter 2017, Environment Canterbury staff went to the mine to check whether the company was complying with its consent conditions.  They also checked whether the company had completed establishing sediment controls, including fencing, staged ponds and planting, to manage the areas exposed during development.

It was these visits, and a review of monitoring data, that led to the $10,500 fine. Details of the infringements can be found at

“They have taken responsibility and are close to completing the system that should keep sediment out of local waterways,” Michaela Rees said. “Last winter they started the construction of the sediment controls during a high-risk period. They have learnt their lesson.”

“If the company fails to comply again, we won’t hesitate to escalate our enforcement response if necessary - our waterways must be protected.”