29th June 2017

The Mining and Petroleum Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 was passed by the NSW Parliament on 20 June 2017. It commenced on 27 June 2017 following the Governor’s assent.

The Bill makes changes to the regulation of ancillary mining activities under the Mining Act 1992 and a range of compliance and enforcement provisions under this Act and the Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991. Further details are outlined below.

Ancillary mining activities (AMAs)

Recent changes to the framework for regulating AMAs (formerly known as mining purposes) clarify its operation and scope, and establish a new streamlined approval pathway to consolidate rehabilitation obligations onto existing mining titles. AMAs are processes and infrastructure that support a principal mining operation, such as a dam or stockpile.

Mining proponents are the main operators of AMAs, although a small number are operated by third parties (such as local councils). All operators of AMAs are now subject to the new regulatory framework, unless an exemption is in place – see below.

To meet this obligation, a person may now choose between two pathways:

  1. applying for a separate mining lease, or mineral claim where appropriate, for AMA(s) only. This pathway has not changed.
  2. alternatively a person can apply to add an AMA rehabilitation condition to an existing mining lease, even where the AMA occurs outside the mining lease area. This is an enforceable condition which allows operators to consolidate their rehabilitation obligations onto a single mining lease .

Both regulatory pathways may only be granted where the AMA is carried out in the immediate vicinity of and to directly facilitate a mining lease or mineral claim.

Further information on the new AMA framework is available on our website.

Current Ministerial Exemption

The Exemption from Mining Act 1992 section 6 (Unauthorised carrying out of mining purposes) Order 2015’  NSW Gazette on 11 September 2015) is ending on 15 November 2017.

Those mining operators and other operators of ancillary mining activities previously exempted from prosecution under section 6 of the Mining Act 1992 now need to lodge an application with the Division of Resources and Geoscience before the exemption period ends to avoid prosecution.  

Application can be made for either: a mining lease for AMAs only; or to vary a mining lease in respect of mineral(s) to impose an AMA condition.

While that application is being assessed, the new section 6 offence does not apply in relation to the AMA that is the subject of the application. However, on and from 16 November 2017, the new section 6 offence will apply where these requirements are not met.

Further details on AMA framework and application process are available on our website.

Other legislative changes

Stronger penalties for the offence of providing false or misleading information have also been introduced. Penalties apply to titleholders who allow their agents to knowingly or recklessly provide false or misleading information about the holder’s authorisation. Other minor changes to improve the enforceable undertakings framework and streamline titles administration have also come into effect.