NSW rehabilitation amendment to impact mining leases

The New South Wales Resources Regulator has implemented stricter conditions for mining leases, including the planning of mine rehabilitation activities three years in advance.

The amendments are part of the regulation under the Mining Act 1992, which prescribes new mining lease conditions relating to rehabilitation and sets clear, achievable and enforceable requirements.

The regulation commenced on July 2 and conditions will apply to all new mining leases issued from this date.

Under the amendment, lease holders will be required to prevent or minimise harm to the environment, rehabilitate land and water as soon as reasonably practicable after disturbance occurs and achieve the approved final land use for the mining area as set out in the rehabilitation objectives statement, the rehabilitation completion criteria statement and, for large mines, the final landform and rehabilitation spatial plan.

Lease holders will also be required to undertake a rehabilitation risk assessment and implement measures to eliminate, minimise or mitigate risks to achieving the final land use, prepare an annual rehabilitation report which describes the progress of rehabilitation over the annual reporting period, and prepare a forward program.

This includes the schedule of mining and rehabilitation activities for the next three years demonstrating how rehabilitation will occur as soon as reasonably practicable after disturbance.

Large mine lease holders will be required to prepare and implement a rehabilitation management plan.

According to the Regulator, lease holders will be required to demonstrate that the rehabilitation of land and water disturbed by mining is safe and stable and can support the future final land use approved through the development consent.

“Between 19 March and 30 April 2021, we sought feedback on six guidelines developed to support the new rehabilitation standard conditions and associated requirements,” the Regulator stated.

“These guidelines are intended to help the leaseholder comply with the conditions and mandatory requirements and do not contain any additional mandatory requirements.”

The reforms apply to all new mining leases. Recognising the need for the industry to prepare for the new requirements, existing mining leases will have 12 months (large mines) and 24 months (small mines) from the date the regulation commences to fully comply with the reforms.

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