The Derelict Mines Program (DMP) is a feature of Government that assists landholders and managers with rehabilitation of, and remediation of impacts from, derelict mine sites in NSW. The DMP is administered by the NSW Department of Industry, Skills and Regional Development within the Division of Resources & Energy (DRE).
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 2015-16 financial year, $3.3 million is allocated to the Derelict Mines Program for works. Read the Derelict Mines Program Policy.
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.
Generally, 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. Currently around $2.02 billion is held in security deposits.
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
- Design works
- Physical safety works (for example fencing, grating or filling 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.
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.
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:
- Development and deployment of a purposed built data management system – DMPDB (complete).
- Screening level (desktop) risk assessment of all sites in the Derelict Mines Program database (complete).
- Data upgrade and cleansing program (ongoing)
- 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:
- 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.
- 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 uses the various pre-qualification scheme found at the procurepoint website.
The Derelict Mines Program defines a derelict mine as a site that:
- was used for, or has been affected by, mining operations or prospecting operations;
- no person or company, with direct responsibility for the rehabilitation of the mine site, can be located; and
- had a mining title approved under the Mining Act (1992) or Petroleum (Onshore) Act (1991) or their predecessors.
2015/16 Derelict mine projects
For the 2015-2016 financial year, the range of works proposed include:
- Broken Hill Shaft Fill Campaign
- Conrad Design Works
- Cowarra Investigation & Design Works
- Emmaville and Tingha Shaft Filling Campaign
- Hill End Investigation
- Kandos Coomber Safety Works
- Kyooma Remediation Works
- Leadville Safety Works
- Lobs Hole Environmental Works
- Macleay Investigation
- Mole River Maintenance Works
- Petroleum Wells Decommissioning Plans for high risk sites
- Phoenix Mt Charlestead Works
- Ross Ridge Works
- Silver Peak Yerranderie Investigation
- Sunny Corner Investigation & Works
- Tingha Tin Field Works
- True Blue Shaft Remediation
- University Dam Design Works
- Urunga Remediation
- Webbs Consuls Investigation
- White Cliffs Safety Works
- Y-water Emmaville Design Works
- Ongoing Remediation Works at Woodsreef Mine
2014-15 was a successful year for the Derelict Mines Program with the completion of 32 individual projects. Examples include:
- Glen Davis – Derelict Mines Program undertook an asbestos removal project across the 6 ha processing site. A fence was also constructed to isolate the processing area from the adjacent National Park to improve the safety of the site.
- Temora - Derelict Mines Program increased the capacity of a leachate dam and improved the spillway, reducing the risk pollution from a very high to a moderate risk. Derelict Mines Program finalised a Remediation Action Plan (RAP) for the site. The RAP focusses on surface water management to reduce the risk of contaminated water discharge.
- Wallarah - In October 2013, severe bushfires in the Catherine Hill Bay area ignited coal stockpiles at the derelict Wallarah Colliery. Fire suppression works were completed by the installation of a clay capping layer over the coal stockpiles to prevent future bushfire incidences.
- Petroleum Wells Assessment Project – The project involved developing a screening and risk assessment process for derelict petroleum wells based on structural integrity and environmental impact. The findings demonstrated that of the approximately 340 derelict wells, the vast majority required no further action. The highest risk wells (approximately 10) will require decommissioning, with plug and abandonment plans scheduled for the near future.
- Sunny Corner Design Works – The first phase of design works was completed to prevent air from entering underground workings. The design aims to reduce the generation of acid water and thereby reducing heavy metal loads from leaving site.
During the financial year, Screening Level Risk Assessments were completed for all sites. The Program (which consisted of its full complement of four full time officers for the first time) invested significant effort in improving data held in the Derelict Mines Program Database and ground-truthing sites. Derelict Mines Program Officers attended 97 individual mine sites in 2014/15. Sites are inspected as part of DMPs ongoing data improvement and monitoring program.
In 2013-2014 works were completed at 30 Project Sites. Examples include:
- Safety works at Hill end and Lightning Ridge
- Woodsreef drainage works
- Consultation / technical design for Conrad and Ottery Mine
- Maintenance works on numerous sites including Peelwood, Tottheham, Captains Flat and Bimbimbie
- Drainage works in the processing area at Captains Flat
DIGS – historical mining information
Common Ground – Current mining titles information