Overview

The NSW Resources Regulator encourages proponents of mining operations to ensure progressive rehabilitation and post-mining land uses are properly considered early in the design stages and before lodging a development application.

Often, development applications for mining projects do not contain enough information on rehabilitation or proposed post-mining land uses and lack rigorous justifications and risk assessments. This has the potential to result in poor environmental outcomes. For instance, the Leading practice sustainable development program for the mining industry's handbook on mine rehabilitation (Commonwealth of Australia, September 2016 date) states:

- opportunities and threats should be identified early so that mining operations do not reduce rehabilitation options (p.6)

- effective and early planning helps to minimise rehabilitation costs (p.6).

To improve regulatory coordination at the planning, operational and closure stages of the mine life cycle, proponents should consult with the Regulator at the early stages of the mine planning and design process. This should occur before lodging a development application for a new mine or modification of an existing mine.

As stated in the Leading practice sustainable development program for the mining industry’s handbook on mine closure (Commonwealth of Australia, September 2016, page 60) “Closure plans evolve throughout the life of a mine and must provide more detail as the mine nears decommissioning and closure.” As such proponents are also encouraged to consult with the Regulator throughout the operational and closure stages of a mine in relation to the preparation of Rehabilitation Management Plans (currently Mining Operation Plans), Rehabilitation Objectives and Completion Criteria as well as rehabilitation completion reports.

Contact the Mining Act Inspectorate on 1300 814 609 (option 2, then 5) or via email at nswresourcesregulator@service-now.com.

Rehabilitation and securities panel (RASP)

The Regulator has established the rehabilitation and securities panel (RASP) to aid continual improvement in the regulatory oversight of rehabilitation and mine closure across the mining sector.

RASP provides valuable feedback to proponents at the early stages of mine planning to ensure rehabilitation and post-mining land uses are properly considered early in the design stages and before lodging a development application. In addition, proponents are also to encouraged to consult with RASP for feedback as required in the development and execution of rehabilitation strategies during the operational and closure phases of a mine.

The Regulator encourages proponents of new mining operations (including extensions to existing mines and modifications to existing approvals) to seek feedback from the RASP before lodging development applications with the consent authority.

RASP is made up of senior members of the Mining Act Inspectorate including:

  • Director Compliance
  • Principal Inspector Environment and Rehabilitation Operations
  • Manager Compliance Operations
  • Manager Environmental Operations

Presentations to RASP

Presentations to RASP can be arranged by contacting the Mining Act Inspectorate on 1300 814 609 (option 2, then 5) or via email at nswresourcesregulator@service-now.com

At least 10 days before the presentation, proponents should email their presentation along with any supporting information to nswresourcesregulator@service-now.com

Presentations to RASP should demonstrate how the project:

  • addresses the relevant requirements set out in Part E. Rehabilitation of the Indicative Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARs) (October 2015)
  • has considered post-mining land uses that minimise sterilisation of land
  • has considered potential barriers or limitations to achieving successful rehabilitation, including how controls have been incorporated into the design of a mine to maximise rehabilitation outcomes (e.g. alternative tailings management approaches that minimises the requirement to construct tailings dams)
  • has identified suitable post-mining land uses (taking into account local and regional planning controls; adjacent and surrounding landforms and land uses; proposed rehabilitation outcomes of any neighbouring mines)
  • justifies the proposed mine design, rehabilitation schedule and final landform, including:
    • why has the mine design been chosen (incorporating resource, design, commercial/economic constraints)?
    • why is this the best outcome (including justification for final voids, high walls and low walls, tailings dams etc.)?
    • why is this an improvement to any the currently approved project (as relevant)?

Further information

Proponents of mining projects are encouraged to refer to the government’s Integrated mining policy in NSW.

The policy is a whole-of-government project that aims to:

  • improve the regulation and assessment of major mining projects
  • strike a balance between the significant benefits mining can bring to the economy and the potential impacts on communities and the environment
  • help manage the environmental and social impacts of mining
  • ensure the community has access to relevant and timely information about mining projects.

The policy aims to improve transparency, consistency and accountability for assessment decisions by helping guide proponents to develop applications and compliance reports that better communicate key issues that are of interest to government and the community.

See our contact details here.