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Suspension of mining operations

The policy commenced on 1 August 2022 and is available: Suspension of Mining Operations Policy (PDF, 87.55 KB).

To apply, complete the notification/application form through the TMS portal or offline and submit it to the Department.

In addition, refer to the reportable events information and submit your application, if appropriate.

When does the policy apply?

This policy is effective from 1 August 2022 and applies to lease holders who want to suspend mining operations.

This policy does not apply to mining leases for ancillary mining activity or activities only.

Why is consent needed when a lease holder suspends mining operations for economic or other reasons?

Clause 7A(1) of Schedule 1B to the Act requires that ‘A mining lease is subject to a condition that the holder of the lease may suspend mining operations in the mining area only if the operations are suspended in accordance with the written consent of the decision maker’.

The NSW Government expects the development of the state’s mineral resources to deliver a beneficial financial return to the people of NSW. This includes mining lease holders facilitating the timely and responsible development of the resource they have been granted the approval to extract.

While a suspension of mining operations consent is in place, rehabilitation, environmental monitoring and maintenance activities at the site must continue under the lease conditions.

What are the extenuating factors considered when a lease holder seeks to suspend mining operations?

The Department considers the following as factors for the voluntary and temporary suspension of mining operations:

  • protracted and complex land access matters
  • unforeseen events (eg: ‘force majeure’ events)
  • the mining lease in question is part of a project, and suspension is necessary because of matters impacting the project.
  • significant commercial or economic factors
  • unanticipated delays in approvals
  • a lawful direction or order.

Can the notification or consent for the suspension of mining operations include suspension of rehabilitation obligations?

A consent to suspend mining operations is not consent to suspend the rehabilitation obligations, which also apply under Schedule 8A to the Mining Regulation.

The Department may also consent to a suspension of rehabilitation obligations if it is not reasonably practicable for the rehabilitation activities to be undertaken during the suspension of mining operations. If the suspension impacts rehabilitation obligations, the rehabilitation management plan and forward program must be updated to show how progressive rehabilitation obligations will be managed during the suspension of mining operations.

Does this policy apply to a direction to suspend mining operations?

No. An inspector can issue a notice to suspend mining operations due to actual or potential environmental or safety concerns. This is different to a voluntary request to suspend mining operations.

Is there a cost for the application?

There is no fee for notification to suspend mining operations. However, there may be charges for applications seeking consent to suspend mining operations for up to 3 years and to suspend mining operations for cumulative periods over 3 years. If applicable, fees for applications will be set out in the Regulations. Should the Department need to undertake further studies, such as commercial viability, resource assessments and site inspections, fees may be charged to the applicant on a cost recovery basis.

How long can a lease holder suspend operations?

The maximum time that the Department will grant a single consent to suspend is 3years (which includes any period of up to 12 months under the notification provisions above). After 3years, a lease may apply for a further period of suspension. In this case, the Department may review to determine whether to grant a subsequent suspension.

How does this relate to 'care and maintenance'?

The term ‘care and maintenance’ is used colloquially to refer to a mine that is no longer extracting the resource and where the mine site is being managed to ensure it remains safe and stable. The Act does not contain a concept of ‘care and maintenance. ‘Care and maintenance' may be used to describe a suspension of mining operations under the Act. As outlined above, the lease holder can only suspend mining operations with the written consent of the Department. Without consent, the suspension of mining operations is a breach of the statutory conditions of a lease and an offence under 378D of the Mining Act.