New initiatives in mining rehabilitation

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

To help achieve this, the Resources Regulator is making operational improvements to compliance and reporting requirements for rehabilitation (the reforms).

The overall objective of the reforms is to set clearer, more focused rehabilitation requirements throughout the mine life to ensure progressive rehabilitation occurs and sustainable post-mining land use outcomes are achieved.

The reforms set out a dynamic approach to rehabilitation which recognises the need for robust strategies with mechanisms that support and encourage continuous improvement as data and capabilities grow over time.

The reforms include the introduction of new mining lease conditions and codes of practice which set clear, achievable and enforceable requirements for rehabilitation.

Guidelines have been prepared to 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.

Providing better guidance for the mining industry and introducing enhanced regulatory measures will make mining lease conditions clearer and more enforceable. It will also increase the community’s confidence in regulatory processes.

For further information read our frequently asked questions

New mining lease conditions

The mining lease conditions relating to environmental management and rehabilitation have been reviewed to improve clarity and enforceability in relation to the following requirements:

  • Progressive rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation risk assessment and risk management
  • Annual reporting and scheduling of rehabilitation in the form of an Annual rehabilitation report and forward program
  • Rehabilitation management plan which includes rehabilitation objectives and completion criteria and a final landform and rehabilitation plan
  • Rehabilitation records

Proposed Mining Lease Conditions

Codes of practice

Codes of practice have been prepared for small and large mines detailing mandatory requirements for the preparation of a Rehabilitation management plan (which replaces the mining operations plan) and an annual Rehabilitation report and forward program (which replaces the annual environmental management report).

The following new codes of practices are now subject to consultation:

These codes of practice are referred to in the conditions of the mining lease and provide the mandatory requirements for structure, format and content of a Rehabilitation management plan (which replaces the current Mining operations plan) and an annual Rehabilitation report and forward program (which replaces the current annual environmental management plan).

NOTE:
A large mine is a mine which requires an environment protection licence under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997. A small mine is a mine which does not require an environment protection licence under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997.

Guidelines

Guidelines have been prepared to support lease holders to understand and meet their obligations regarding rehabilitation risk assessment, rehabilitation records, record keeping and the requirements relating to the Rehabilitation GIS Portal.

The new guidelines include:

Consultation

The consultation process gives industry an opportunity to contribute to the operational measures that will be introduced to improve rehabilitation management, compliance and outcomes.

Please submit your written comments to the Resources Regulator no later than close of business 31  October 2018.

Email: rr.feedback@planning.nsw.gov.au

Post to: Resources Regulator
Department of Planning and Environment
PO Box 344
Hunter Region Mail Centre NSW 2310

Workshops

Throughout the consultation process, workshops will be run to gather feedback, outline the changes, discuss transitional arrangements and to keep industry informed about the implementation of the program.

The first workshop will be held on:

Wednesday 8 August
at the NSW Mining HSEC Conference - Crowne Plaza, Hunter Valley.

Further details on the time and location of other workshops will be posted on this website.

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 will assist mining companies to submit, analyse and report on their rehabilitation activities in a more streamlined way. The portal will also assist the Resources Regulator in monitoring and regulating rehabilitation requirements for mining activities.

Later this year, the portal will be available for titleholders to submit rehabilitation spatial information associated with Mining operations plans and annual Environmental management reports.

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

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

To help title holders use the Rehabilitation GIS Portal, the Department has developed guidance material, which is also the subject of consultation, including:

  • Guideline 4: Rehabilitation GIS Portal – overview and access - provides an overview of the Rehabilitation GIS Portal and information to facilitate account registration and access.
  • Guideline 5: Rehabilitation GIS Portal - spatial data (GIS) guidelines - sets out the department’s requirements for the format of spatial data to be submitted.

Implementation

The reforms are intended to apply to all mining leases granted, renewed or transferred from early 2019 (date to be determined).

The Resources Regulator is also proposing to transition existing mining leases which do not require renewal. This will be implemented under a phased approach:

  • Phase 1 – larger scale operations such as coal and metalliferous mines within three months
  • Phase 2 – the remaining large mines within six months
  • Phase 3 – the small mines within 12 months.

It is recognised that industry will require adequate time to implement systems as well as prepare and submit required documents such as a Rehabilitation management plan and an annual Rehabilitation report and forward program. As such, a 12-month transitional period is proposed from the date the new conditions are applied in order to fully comply with the reforms.

Related reforms

The Department of Planning and Environment is seeking to improve the rehabilitation framework for major mining projects.

The discussion paper Improving mine rehabilitation in NSW was exhibited from November 2017 to 16 February 2018. The discussion paper proposes reforms to ensure rehabilitation and post mining land uses are properly considered early in mine planning, including the assessment of any final voids.

The proposals also seek to improve regulatory coordination across the different stages of the mine life cycle.

The discussion paper proposals only apply to existing and new major mining projects, known as State significant development.

Submissions have now closed and feedback is being considered. For more information please go to the Department of Planning and Environment website.

The Operational rehabilitation – compliance and reporting reforms complements the reforms proposed in improving mine rehabilitation in NSW, by focusing on operational improvements to mining rehabilitation.

Enquiries

For all enquiries regarding the operational rehabilitation – compliance and reporting reforms please contact the Resources Regulator on 1300 814 609 or rr.feedback@planning.nsw.gov.au

For all enquiries regarding the Rehabilitation GIS Portal please email rehabilitation.projects@planning.nsw.gov.au