New initiatives in mining rehabilitation

The effective management of mining rehabilitation activities by the Division of Resources and Geoscience (the Division) is helping to ensure that NSW continues to be at the forefront of rehabilitation policy and practice in Australia. This will ensure NSW citizens enjoy both the mineral resource and environmental riches of the State for generations to come.

In driving effective rehabilitation, DRG will be implementing two significant projects in 2018, the Rehabilitation Reform Program and the Rehabilitation GIS Portal.

Rehabilitation Reform Program

The Division, as the lead regulator for mine rehabilitation, is implementing the Rehabilitation Reform Program (the Program) to drive best-practice mine site rehabilitation, streamline regulation and improve enforceability.

The Program will:

  • provide improved methodologies for the calculation and collection of rehabilitation security deposits, including a new rehabilitation cost estimate tool (released in June 2017)
  • deliver a new rehabilitation and assessment protocol to guide the assessment of rehabilitation performance
  • investigate alternative mechanisms to address longer-term residual risks and the development of innovative approaches to the management of legacy mines
  • implement additional reviews of rehabilitation securities for higher-risk sites and more detailed closure plans earlier in the mine design process.

As part of the Program, to be implemented throughout 2018, the Division has developed a Draft Code of Practice: Rehabilitation of Mining.

This Code has been prepared to assist the industry to:

  • achieve compliance with mining lease conditions related to environmental management, protection and rehabilitation
  • achieve best practice rehabilitation, through detailing mandatory requirements and providing guidance
  • commit to measurable performance outcomes
  • adopt innovative solutions and best practice techniques to meet rehabilitation outcomes
  • monitor performance and take corrective action if these outcomes are not being achieved
  • keep and maintain relevant records of activities and/or actions.

The Division’s Environmental Sustainability Unit (ESU) has completed interagency consultation with key Government Agencies on the main components of the Rehabilitation Reform Project and will commence industry consultation in late February 2018.

As a major step change program in the regulation of rehabilitation, the Rehabilitation Reform Program will implement operational measures to improve the enforceability of mining lease conditions, resulting in an approach to rehabilitation which is dynamic and provides for continuous improvement as data and capabilities grow over time.

Overall, we expect the reforms will improve the community’s confidence in the Government’s regulatory processes and help to ensure that industry has a clear social licence to operate, and that NSW has a sustainable minerals industry.

Rehabilitation GIS Portal

The Division of Resources and Geoscience (the Division) is currently developing a Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping tool for mine rehabilitation, called the Rehabilitation GIS Portal (the Portal), to accurately record and track areas of disturbance and rehabilitation progress at mine sites.

The Portal is an Australian first, and will assist mining companies to submit, analyse and report on their rehabilitation activities in a more streamlined way, as well as helping the Division to undertake its performance and compliance functions.

A key benefit of the Portal will be increased transparency of mine rehabilitation activities. Animated time-series rehabilitation maps, illustrating the extent of mine disturbance and progressive rehabilitation, will be made available to the public, to demonstrate government transparency in the oversight of mine rehabilitation. This will ensure the people of NSW can be fully aware of the progress of rehabilitation activities.

A key phase of the Portal’s development is User Acceptance Testing (UAT). Internal UAT commenced in late 2017 and external UAT, with nominated industry representatives, is being undertaken in the first quarter of 2018. This UAT will allow the development team to improve the functionality and useability of the system and to identify any bugs prior to roll out.

At the same time, the development team is busily uploading rehabilitation data from State Significant Development mines to the Portal.

The Portal is expected to go live in July 2018, following the successful completion of internal and external UAT.

Stay informed

For all Rehabilitation Reform Project enquires please contact the Environmental Sustainability Unit 02 4931 6605 or minres.environment@industry.nsw.gov.au

Related Reforms

Proposals to improve the rehabilitation framework for major mining projects are currently on exhibition. For more information and to make a submission, go to the Department of Planning and Environment website. Submissions will close on 16 February 2018.

Feedback received will be used to inform the development of new policy and actions to improve rehabilitation and post mining land use outcomes for major mining projects.