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Queensland mining companies avoid clean-up costs with Government consent, lawyers say

David Barnden from not-for-profit law firm Environmental Justice Australia (EJA) said the costs, sometimes amounting to billions of dollars, must then be covered by governments.

"In Queensland, there are about 15,000 abandoned mines and the extent of the problem is just enormous," Mr Barnden said.

A new report from EJA's climate and finance program outlines six ways coal mining companies can avoid or minimise their rehabilitation costs.

Methods used include putting a mine into "care and maintenance", using up cash reserves, selling mines cheaply to smaller companies, and expanding a mine instead of closing it.

Queensland Resources Council (QRC) acting chief executive Greg Lane said he did not believe there were any loopholes in the system.

"There are very, very few mines that have been abandoned since the regulation of mining was transferred to the Environment Department in 2001," he said.

"This shows the system is working."

Mr Barnden said the State Government required mining companies to secure financial assurance to cover rehabilitation costs, but the outcome was often not realistic.