The NSW Work Health and Safety (Mines and Petroleum Sites) Act 2013 and NSW Work Health and Safety (Mines and Petroleum Sites) Regulation 2014 align specific mine safety laws with general work health and safety laws. They also provide a single legislative framework for the regulation of safety in mines and petroleum sites in all sectors (e.g. coal, metalliferous and extractive).

The laws were developed based on the national model WHS Regulations for mining and additional mining provisions agreed by New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia.

They are another important step towards the harmonisation of work health and safety laws for mines and petroleum sites.

What is a mine?

The WHS (Mines and Petroleum Sites) laws apply to all workplaces that are mines. A mine is a workplace at which mining operations are carried out or a tourist mine.

What are mining operations?

Mining operations are made up of two types of pursuits. Firstly, mining activities, which are activities carried out for the purpose of:

  • extracting minerals from the ground
  • injecting minerals into the ground, but only where the primary purpose of the injection is to inject a mineral into the ground or to return a mineral to the ground, or
  • exploring for minerals.

Secondly, there are activities carried out in connection with mining activities at a local site. A local site in relation to mining activities is the site at which those activities are carried out, or a site that adjoins, or is in the vicinity of, the site at which those activities are carried out.

Mining operations includes such things as constructing a mine site, or handling, preparing, processing or storing of extracted materials carried out in connection with mining activities at a local site. It also includes activities associated with decommissioning, making safe or closing an extraction site or exploration site.

Mining operations also includes educational and tourist activities carried out in connection with mining activities at a local site, for example if tours of the site are provided at an operating mine.

What is a tourist mine?

Tourist mines are workplaces previously used for mining operations that are now used only for tourism purposes. Such former mines are only considered tourist mines if certain types of hazards existed at the site when it operated as a mine and which remain present at the site. The types of hazards, known as principal mining hazards, have potential to result in multiple fatalities in a single or series of incidents.  This includes hazards such as ground or strata failure, fire or explosion and spontaneous combustion, amongst others.

For more information see our tourist mines topic page.

What is a petroleum site?

The WHS (Mines and Petroleum Sites) laws apply to all petroleum sites. A petroleum site is a workplace at which petroleum operations are carried out and includes any fixtures, fittings, plant or structures at the workplace that are used or were formerly used for petroleum operations.

What are petroleum operations?

Petroleum operations are made up of two types of pursuits. Firstly, petroleum activities, which are activities carried out for the purpose of:

  • extracting petroleum from the ground
  • injecting petroleum into the ground, but only where the primary purpose of the injection is to inject petroleum into the ground or to return petroleum to the ground, or
  • exploring for petroleum.

Secondly, there are activities carried out in connection with petroleum activities at a local site. A local site in relation to petroleum activities is the site at which those activities are carried out, or a site that adjoins, or is in the vicinity of, the site at which those activities are carried out.

Petroleum operations includes such things as constructing a petroleum site, or handling, preparing, processing or storing of extracted materials carried out in connection with petroleum activities at a local site. It also includes decommissioning, making safe or closure of a petroleum extraction site or a petroleum exploration site.

Petroleum operations include educational activities or tourist activities carried out in connection with petroleum activities at a local site.

What help is available during the transition to the new legislation?

A dedicated web page is available to help guide you through the transition to the new legislation.

How do codes of practice relate to the law?

An approved code of practice is a practical guide to achieving the standards of health, safety and welfare required under work health and safety laws.

Codes of practice have a legal status under the law. For more information and copies of the codes approved under this legislation, please visit our codes of practice page.

What other guidance is available?

A range of supporting guidance is available on our publications page to assist duty holders to manage risks to health and safety. Guidance ranges from simple fact sheets to technical guidance on particular topics including many mining design guidelines that may assist in identifying hazards and risks and implementing effective controls.