The Derelict Mines Program (DMP) is a feature of Government that assists landholders and land managers with rehabilitation of, and remediation of impacts from, derelict mine sites in NSW.

DMP is administered by the Division of Resource and Energy’s Environmental Sustainability Unit within the NSW Department of Industry.

DMP prioritises expenditure of allocated funds on consideration of a variety of matters including public safety and environmental risks posed by the mine as well as cost effectiveness of the proposed remediation works.

The Program commenced in 1974 with the NSW Government allocating $125,000 to remediate derelict mine sites. For the 2016-17 financial year, $3.3 million is allocated to the Derelict Mines Program for works.

Contact us at: derelict.mines@industry.nsw.gov.au

Read the Derelict Mines Program Policy ( 77.7 KB)
See Derelict Mines Program highlights and achievements 
View Derelict Mines Program latest news
View Derelict Mines Program Case Studies

Legacy Mining Issues

Outstanding legacy issues have the potential to cause immediate safety and environmental impacts as well as being potentially damaging to the mining industry overall.  As such, the Government recognises that legacy issues must be adequately dealt with.

Whilst the Derelict Mines Program does not have any statutory or legislative responsibility to remediate any site, this initiative of Government does offer funding to address highest priority sites/highest risk issues.

The Program allocates funding after all other avenues have been exhausted.

What is a derelict mine?

Derelict mines are former mining sites requiring remediation where no individual or company can be held responsible for its management or rehabilitation.

Responsibility for derelict mines rests with the land owner.  No particular Government agency has statutory responsibility for the remediation of derelict mine sites.

Modern day regulation means that current operations are responsible for rehabilitation.

All operating mines must lodge a security deposit for the full cost of rehabilitation at the commencement of operations. The security deposit is used to cover remediation costs should the mine become insolvent. This policy minimises the risk of legacy environmental and safety issues post mine closure and ensures costs of rehabilitation are borne by the Mining Industry rather than the NSW Government.

Currently around $2.1 billion is held in security deposits (at Nov 2016).

Program aims

The Derelict Mines Program aims to:

  • reduce or eliminate risks to public health, safety and the environment;
  • stabilise and prevent further degradation of derelict mine sites; and
  • remove or contain contamination or sources of nuisance at their source and prevent them from spreading.

Secondary aims are:

  • to optimise beneficial reuse of derelict mine sites;
  • encourage native plant and animal life;
  • conserve items of significant heritage value; and
  • improve visual amenity.

The range of remediation works funded by the Derelict Mines Program includes:

  • Detailed site assessments and remediation action planning
  • Engineering design work
  • Physical safety works (for example fencing, grating or filling of shafts)
  • Erosion and sediment control works,
  • Management of acid mine drainage and contamination,
  • Stabilisation and revegetation of sites, and
  • Continued monitoring and review of sites.

Remediation work has been undertaken in many areas of the state (see our achievements and highlights (link) and read our latest news (link)

Map of Derelict Mine Sites within NSW.

Derelict Mines Program Steering Committee

The Derelict Mines Program Steering Committee consists of representatives from NSW Department of Industry, Crown Lands, Environment Protection Authority and NSW Minerals Council.

The Derelict Mines Program Steering Committee confirms DMP risk assessments and assists with selection of projects to receive funding for works.

Prioritisation of Derelict Mines for Works

The Derelict Mines Program operates on a limited budget and prioritises the expenditure of funds based on consideration of a variety of matters including:

  • public safety risk presented by the derelict mine;
  • environmental risk presented by the derelict mine;
  • end use of the land impacted by the derelict mine; and
  • cost effectiveness of rehabilitation or remediation works.

Projects identified as likely to deliver a lasting result benefiting the broader community are typically prioritised over short term remediation works. Works undertaken by the Derelict Mines Program generally focus on remediating impacts on public land. Projects on private land, where the main beneficiaries of the works are private landholders, are not generally funded unless there is also a clear public benefit.

Read the Derelict Mines Funding Priority Guidelines.

Derelict Mine Site Risk Assessments

The Derelict Mines Program has recently adopted a modern risk based approach to prioritise and refocus the works program.  The approach is an iterative cycle which involves:

  1. Development and deployment of a purposed built data management system – DMPDB (complete).
  2. Screening level (desktop) risk assessment of all sites in the Derelict Mines Program database (complete).
  3. Data upgrade and cleansing program (ongoing)
  4. Inspection of sites, improving site information base, works and/or review risk ratings (ongoing).

For example, on a contaminated site:

Risk ratings are divided into two categories:

  1. SAFETY RISK RATING - DMP safety risk ratings utilise ISO31000 methodology for likelihood and consequence.  DMP methodology utilises a set of metrics (cues) to make assessments consistent. The screening level assessments were purposefully conservative as safety works are generally straight forward and can be completed quickly.
  2. ENVIRONMENTAL RISK RATING - Environmental risk ratings are more complex and consider real or potential risk.  Risks are considered in six theme areas (soil contamination; surface water contamination; groundwater contamination; erosion and sedimentation; stability and subsidence; and (failure of) containment structures).  Sites that are contributing to offsite impacts are rated higher than sites where issues are contained to site.

Consultants and contractors

The Derelict Mines Program conforms to NSW Government probity and procurement requirements, safety-management regulations and relevant legislation. Consultants and contractors should familiarise themselves with the NSW Government procurement guidelines and procedures at NSW ProcurePoint.

Derelict Mines Program utilises contractors from the various pre-qualification scheme found at the ProcurePoint website.