New initiatives in mining rehabilitation

The implementation of best-practice mine site rehabilitation is critical to ensure NSW has a sustainable minerals industry.

We are improving compliance and reporting requirements for rehabilitation through the development of a new regulation under the Mining Act 1992, which will replace mining lease conditions relating to rehabilitation and set clear, achievable and enforceable requirements for rehabilitation. This will ensure progressive rehabilitation occurs and sustainable post-mining land use outcomes are achieved.

New mining lease conditions

The mining lease conditions relating to rehabilitation will be prescribed through a new regulation under the Mining Act 1992.

Rehabilitation outcomes are the results that the lease holder must achieve to demonstrate that rehabilitation of land and water disturbed by mining is safe and stable and meets the rehabilitation obligations of the development consent. That is, the land can support the future land use approved by the development.

The mining lease conditions relating to rehabilitation have been reviewed to improve clarity and enforceability of rehabilitation outcomes.

Lease holders will be required to develop a rehabilitation management plan to identify how they will identify and achieve their rehabilitation outcomes and a forward program to demonstrate the tactical approach to progressively achieving the outcomes. These will include undertaking rehabilitation risk assessment and management, developing detailed rehabilitation objectives, establishing completion criteria for specific areas and, for large mines, a final landform and rehabilitation plan which spatially depicts rehabilitation for each area.

The draft regulation and guidance will be published for public consultation in early 2020.

Codes of practice and guidelines

New codes of practice and guidelines will help lease holders understand and meet their obligations regarding rehabilitation risk assessment, progressive rehabilitation, rehabilitation records, record keeping and the requirements of the Rehabilitation GIS Portal.

Codes of practice and guidelines for small and large mines will detail requirements for the preparation of a rehabilitation management plan (which will replace the mining operations plan) and forward program (which will replace the annual environmental management report).

Rehabilitation GIS Portal

The Rehabilitation GIS Portal is an online portal which allows for the collection of rehabilitation spatial data into a centralised geodatabase.

The portal is an Australian first and allows mining companies to submit, analyse and report on their rehabilitation activities in a more streamlined way. The portal also assists the Resources Regulator in monitoring and regulating rehabilitation requirements for mining activities.

Spatial information submitted to the portal will eventually replace the requirement to supply this information in hardcopy formats.

Mining companies can use the portal to accurately record and track areas of disturbance and check rehabilitation progress across individual sites.

Implementation

The reforms are intended to apply to all mining leases granted, renewed or transferred commencing in 2020 (date to be determined) and existing mining leases which do not require renewal will be transitioned. We recognise that industry will need time to prepare and submit required documents, so a minimum 12-month transitional period is proposed from the date the Regulation commences in order to fully comply with the reforms.

Further information

For further information regarding the operational rehabilitation – compliance and reporting reforms contact us on 1300 814 609 or rr.feedback@planning.nsw.gov.au

For further information regarding the Rehabilitation GIS Portal email rehabilitation.projects@planning.nsw.gov.au