The Mining Act 1992 (the Act) is the principal means of regulating exploration and mining of coal and minerals in New South Wales.

The Act establishes the administrative framework for minerals development and includes provisions to regulate the environmental impacts of exploration and mining.

The environmental regulatory role of the Mining Act 1992 also relates to the rehabilitation of mines by ensuring that operations on mine sites are carried out in a manner that enables the mine site to be rehabilitated once mining operations have been completed.

The Mining Act 1992 has been amended by the Mining Amendment Act 2008 and the Mining and Petroleum Legislation Amendment (Land Access) Act 2010.

The Mining and Petroleum Legislation Amendment (Land Access) Act 2010 was passed in order to address uncertainty with access arrangements under the Mining Act 1992 following a Supreme Court decision in March 2010.  The amendments implemented through the Act commenced in June 2010. They provide a new definition of “landholder” which includes a category of “secondary landholder”, for persons who do not have a right to possession of the land but do have a registered interest in the land. The requirements of title holders in relation to accessing land for exploration and the rights of both categories of landholders are set out in the amended legislation. Further details are provided in the section on Changes to Title Holdings.

The Mining Amendment Act 2008 significantly amends the Mining Act 1992. The objects of this Act (Section 3A) are to encourage and facilitate the discovery and development of mineral resources in New South Wales, having regard to the need to encourage ecologically sustainable development, and in particular:

  • to recognise and foster the significant social and economic benefits to New South Wales that result from the efficient development of mineral resources;
  • to provide an integrated framework for the effective regulation of authorisations for prospecting and  mining operations;
  • to provide a framework for compensation to landholders for loss or damage resulting from such operations;
  • to ensure an appropriate return to the State from mineral resources;
  • to require the payment of security to provide for the rehabilitation of mine sites;
  • to ensure effective rehabilitation of disturbed land and water;
  • to ensure mineral resources are identified and developed in ways that minimise impacts on the environment.

To support these amendments, the Mining Regulation 2003 was replaced by the Mining Regulation 2010 on 15 November 2010.

Changes to the Mining Act 1992 will improve the administration of exploration and mining activities by streamlining requirements for both industry and Government.  Key changes include:

Progressive implementation and commencement of the Mining Amendment Act 2008

In August 2008, a number of provisions to the Mining Amendment Act 2008 were introduced.  These changes included, but were not limited to:

  • making it an offence to fail to pay royalty;
  • making it an offence to fail to provide adequate gates and grids on exploration licence, assessment and mining lease areas, as well as mineral claims and opal prospecting areas.

A number of further provisions under the same Mining Amendment Act 2008 came into effect from 15 November 2010. Additional provisions will be implemented progressively over the coming months.

The new provisions are summarised below, along with commencement information.

Some of the provisions are not commencing on 15 November 2010 because further policy development and consultation with stakeholders is being undertaken. Further consultation will ensure that the whole of government approach and desire for streamlining approval processes is able to be achieved. For further information on the provisions not commencing on 15 November, please see Reforms to the mining regulatory framework.

Industry and other stakeholders will be provided with further advice closer to the implementation date of these provisions.