Straddie miner not guilty of illegally extracting sand

NORTH Stradbroke Island mining company Sibelco has been acquitted of two charges of extracting sand without appropriate permits.

Magistrate Graham Lee found the miner not guilty and dismissed both charges when he handed down his judgment in Toowoomba Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

In March 2013, Magistrate Lee found the miner, previously known as Unimin, had a case to answer on two charges relating to whether the sand miner had permits to extract B-grade sand.

At the time, Magistrate Lee ordered the miner to pay court costs of $250,000 after making his ruling on Unimin’s “No Case to Answer” submission.

A third charge relating to forestry operations was dismissed because DERM was one day late in commencing the prosecution.

It was unknown whether the State government department would appeal the decision.

After the judgment, Sibelco said it would apply for costs, depending on whether an appeal was lodged.  

Tuesday's proceedings followed an adjournment and reserved judgement in August last year.

During the hearings, Sibelco said the prosecution was unfair as the company had always paid royalties on all sand from Stradbroke Island.

Sibelco Australia external relations manager Paul Smith said the ruling affirmed Sibelco as a responsible corporate citizen with a genuine commitment to environmental sustainability.

"Sibelco has at all times been transparent with the relevant government departments about the nature of the products supplied their intended purposes and paid the appropriate royalties."

“The decision, resulting from a claim initiated in 2008, supports Sibelco’s position that all activities were in accordance with government regulations," he said. 

"For the whole period, B-grade sand was being extracted, the government accepted royalties having full knowledge of the operation.” 

The Court of Appeal found in 2010 the payment of royalties was "irrelevant" in determining whether Unimin had broken the law.