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Find out about the major mine rehabilitation reforms in NSW

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Mine Rehabilitation & Closure / Mining & Resources

Find out about the major mine rehabilitation reforms in NSW

Key points:

  • The Regulation would introduce new stringent conditions into every Mining Lease (ML) in NSW, requiring progressive rehabilitation throughout the life of the mine. This outcome is achieved and supported by a rehabilitation risk assessment, annual reporting and forward programs of rehabilitation, and detailed rehabilitation management planning.
  • The new conditions would apply to all new MLs, and would be introduced into existing MLs over a 12-24 month transition period. Leaseholders should expect increased compliance oversight by the Regulator while existing MLs are reviewed, and following imposition of the new conditions.
  • Several ways to rehabilitate a mined out area
  • See what score you get for your Rehabilitation and Closure program here
  • Find out how to drive progressive mine rehabilitation
  • Learn about Decipher’s Rehabilitation and Closure solution

 

Under significant reforms proposed by the NSW Resources Regulator (Regulator), all new and existing mines in NSW will be regulated by new standard rehabilitation conditions.

The conditions will apply to all new and existing mining leases (ML) and focus on transparently requiring progressive mine site rehabilitation throughout the life of the mine. The draft Mining Amendment (Standard Conditions of Mining Leases – Rehabilitation) Regulation 2020 (Regulation) has been released for consultation.

Here we take a closer look at what the proposed changes will mean for NSW mining projects:

Background

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A rehabilitated open cut mine five kilometres northwest of Singleton.

Progressive rehabilitation obligations already exist under many MLs and development consents. However, until now there has been no uniform approach to rehabilitation requirements, nor has there been a great deal of regulatory oversight into how rehabilitation progresses over time. Indeed, some older MLs do not contain any explicit conditions requiring progressive rehabilitation.

See what score you get for your Rehabilitation and Closure program

Consistent with the approach in other states such as Queensland, the Regulator is proposing more defined, stringent and transparent mine rehabilitation requirements.

 

Under the proposed reforms, what will change?

How will the NSW standard rehabilitation conditions change with the proposed reforms?

The Regulator is proposing to introduce mandatory conditions into all new and existing MLs, and has released the draft Regulation for public consultation. The new conditions will require all leaseholders to carry out progressive rehabilitation, rehabilitation risk assessment, annual reporting and rehabilitation management planning, as well as introduce new positive obligations around compliance with rehabilitation obligations. The Regulator intends to use an online mine rehabilitation portal to collect data about rehabilitation for large mining projects, and track areas of disturbance and rehabilitation progress across individual sites. The annual rehabilitation reporting and forward programs required by the new conditions, together with the data collected on the rehabilitation portal, will mean increased monitoring and compliance oversight by the Resource Regulator.

 

How will this affect existing Mining Leases (ML) in NSW?

How will the Regulation affect existing Mining Leases in NSW?

The proposed Regulation prescribes new standard conditions of MLs, which would prevail over any inconsistent conditions in an existing ML. The standard conditions would regulate how leaseholders manage rehabilitation, depending on whether the site is characterised as a large mine (a mine subject to one or more MLs requiring an environment protection licence under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997) or a small mine (any mine that is not a large mine). For new MLs granted after the Regulation commences, the standard conditions will apply from lease commencement. For existing MLs, transitional arrangements will allow a period of 12 months for large mines or 24 months for small mines to comply with the new requirements. After the commencement of the Regulation, the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment will review the conditions of every ML and reissue ML instruments incorporating the new conditions for comment by each leaseholder through the process outlined in Schedule 1B, clause 12 of the Mining Act 1992.

 

What are the new standard conditions?

The standard conditions fall into two broad categories; New assessment, planning and reporting requirements, and New rehabilitation obligations.

New assessment, planning and reporting requirements

The new conditions require leaseholders to undertake a range of assessment, planning and reporting activities:

  • Rehabilitation objectives and completion criteria
    • This must be prepared by all leaseholders
    • For large mines, a final landform and rehabilitation plan is also required
    • Both must be submitted for approval by the Secretary within the time-frame specified in the Regulation
  • A rehabilitation risk assessment
    • This must be conducted by all leaseholders and must identify, address and evaluate the risks to be addressed to be achieve the proposed or approved rehabilitation objectives and completion criteria (for small mines) and the final land use (for large mines)
    • The assessment will inform the preparation of annual forward programs
    • Large mines must undertake this assessment before preparing a rehabilitation management plan
    • Small mines must undertake this assessment before new rehabilitation objectives are submitted for approval
  • A rehabilitation management plan
    • Must be prepared for large mines and needs to incorporate the risk control measures identified in the risk assessment
    • This plan is intended to replace the current approach of preparing a MOP
  • A forward program
    • Must be prepared within 60 days of each annual reporting period
    • It is a three-year projection plan for mining activities to to be undertaken each year (including rehabilitation), and must incorporate the risk control measures identified in the rehabilitation risk assessment
  • An annual rehabilitation report
    • Must be prepared within 60 days of each annual reporting period
    • It reports on rehabilitation carried out in the preceeding 12 months, and is intended to replace the current approach of preparing an environmental management report
    • The report must include spatial data for inclusion in the Regulator’s mine rehabilitation portal, and validate the rehabilitation cost estimate which informs the security deposit amount

 

New rehabilitation objectives

The new conditions require leaseholders to comply with new obligations including:

  • taking all reasonable measures to prevent or minimise harm to the environment;
  • rehabilitating land and water disturbed by activities under the ML as soon as reasonably practicable after disturbance occurs;
  • achieving the final land use for the mining area as stated in the approved rehabilitation objectives and completion criteria, and for large mines, as spatially depicted in the approved final landform and rehabilitation plan;
  • keeping records of compliance with the new conditions and reporting non-compliances to the Minister within seven days of becoming aware; and
  • notifying the Secretary of development applications and modification applications.

 

How to drive progressive rehabilitation and closure

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Originally published by Allens.

 


Decipher’s Rehabilitation & Closure Solution

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Armed with Decipher’s Rehabilitation & Closure solution, including GIS, remote sensing, monitoring and management tools means you can easily capture and analyse a wide range of environmental monitoring data, manage risks and issues around put backfilling, rapid flooding, slope instability and acid generation, and ensure you’re meeting your environmental obligations and compliance with alerts and notifications of exceedances.

Request a full demo of Decipher

 

 


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