New regulations for mining rehabilitation

We are improving compliance and reporting requirements for rehabilitation through an amendment to the Regulation under the Mining Act 1992, which prescribes new mining lease conditions relating to rehabilitation and sets clear, achievable and enforceable requirements for rehabilitation.

The Regulation commenced on 2 July 2021. The new standard rehabilitation conditions will apply to all new mining leases issued from this date. For mining leases that were in force before this date, the conditions apply for large mines1 on 2 July 2022 and for small mines2 on 2 July 2023. These new rehabilitation conditions will replace existing rehabilitation and environmental management conditions on current leases.

New mining lease conditions

The new standard conditions will apply to all mining leases. The conditions support best practice mine site rehabilitation by ensuring progressive rehabilitation occurs in a manner that achieves sustainable final land uses following the completion of mining.

Lease holders will be required to demonstrate that the rehabilitation of land and water disturbed by mining is safe and stable and can support the future final land use(s) approved through the development consent. Lease holders will be required to:

  • prevent or minimise harm to the environment
  • rehabilitate land and water as soon as reasonably practicable after disturbance occurs
  • achieve the approved final land use for the mining area as set out in the:
    • rehabilitation objectives statement
    • rehabilitation completion criteria statement
    • final landform and rehabilitation spatial plan (large mines only)
  • undertake a rehabilitation risk assessment and implement measures to eliminate, minimise or mitigate risks to achieving the final land use
  • prepare and implement a rehabilitation management plan (large mines only)
  • prepare an annual rehabilitation report which describes the progress of rehabilitation over the annual reporting period
  • prepare a forward program which includes the schedule of mining and rehabilitation activities for the next three years demonstrating how rehabilitation will occur as soon as reasonably practicable after disturbance.

Mining Amendment (Standard Conditions of Mining Leases—Rehabilitation) Regulation 2021

Form and way

The new mining lease conditions specify that documents must be prepared and (where relevant) given to the Secretary in a ‘form’ and ‘way’ approved by the Secretary (clause 9 in Schedule 8A). The 'form and way' documents below set out these requirements:

Guidelines and fact sheets

The following resources have been prepared to assist lease holders understand and meet their obligations. The guidance material does not provide additional mandatory requirements.

Mine Rehabilitation (GIS) Portal

The standard mining conditions require large mines to lodge a 'final landform and rehabilitation plan' and ‘annual rehabilitation report and forward program’ spatial plans via the Mine Rehabilitation (GIS) Portal. Guideline: Mine rehabilitation portal provides information on the data preparation and submission requirements via the mine rehabilitation portal. Guidance material and training videos can be found here.

The Mine Rehabilitation (GIS) Portal is an online portal that allows for the collection of rehabilitation spatial data into a centralised geodatabase. The portal allows mining companies to submit, analyse and report on their rehabilitation activities in a more streamlined way as well as accurately record and track areas of disturbance and rehabilitation progress. The portal also assists us to monitor and regulate rehabilitation requirements for mining activities.

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

Implementation

The reforms apply to all new mining leases. Recognising the need for the industry to prepare for the new requirements, existing mining leases will have 12 months (large mines) and 24 months (small mines) from the date the Regulation commences to fully comply with the reforms.

Engagement sessions

Over the next 12 months (for large mines) and 24 months (for small mines) we will be engaging with mines to assist them. This will ensure we have active dialog with industry about our expectations for compliance and enable us to assist industry with meeting the new requirements. If you would like to arrange an engagement session please email us at nswresourcesregulator@service-now.com

Leaseholders will be contacted to advise how to align reporting dates with the reporting dates required by other agencies.

Workshops and training

Workshops and training will also support the implementation of the reforms for industry. Please see upcoming events below:

    To assist industry to transition to the reforms and ensure the compatibility of rehabilitation spatial data, a series of webinars will be held to demonstrate the functionality of the Mine Rehabilitation Portal and requirements for the development of the associated spatial data schemas.

    Training sessions will be run using Zoom and each webinar will cover the following topics:

    • Mine Rehabilitation Portal overview
    • creating the required datasets
    • submission requirements
    • reporting capabilities
    • integration with the Regulator Portal.

    Please click on your preferred date below to register for the event.

    Once registered you will receive a link to your nominated email address to join the webinar.

    Click here to review overview videos of the Mine Rehabilitation Portal prior to attending the webinar.

    More than 300 people attended the 2021 NSW Mine Rehabilitation Forum, which was held online on 8 September 2021.

    It was a fantastic opportunity for the Regulator, industry and the wider community to share experiences, lessons learned and promote leading practice in mine rehabilitation. Click here to view the program.

    The day covered the implementation of the new compliance and reporting reforms for mine rehabilitation and new regulations under the Mining Act 1992. Participants also heard from industry representatives who are leading the way in progressive rehabilitation practices and discussed the Regulator's Targeted Assessment Programs (TAPs) over the last two years which have focussed on tailings management, soil and material management, as well as landform establishment.

    A recording of the webinar is available here.

    Thank you to the all of the speakers who presented at the Forum. The day was an overwhelming success, with early feedback indicating the event will become an annual fixture for years to come.

Further information

For further information regarding the compliance and reporting reforms, contact us on 1300 814 609 or nswresourcesregulator@service-now.com


1 Large mine means a mine the subject of one or more mining leases, the carrying out of activities under at least one of which requires an environment protection licence (EPL) under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997.

2 Small mine means a mine that is not a large mine.