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Mining rehabilitation reforms

Financial assurance reform

The Mining Rehabilitation Reforms are part of the Queensland Government’s Financial Assurance Reform package aimed at ensuring Queensland will have leading international financial assurance and rehabilitation practices that contribute to the efficient and effective management of the state’s minerals and energy resources and environment.

The reform package proposes to deliver:

  • a high level of environmental performance
  • rehabilitation investment in the Queensland’s resources industry
  • better protection of Queensland’s financial interests.

Find out more information on the broader reforms.

Mining rehabilitation reforms

The Mined Land Rehabilitation Policy (PDF, 1.3M) formalises the Queensland Government’s commitment to ensuring land disturbed by mining activities is rehabilitated to a safe and stable landform that does not cause environmental harm and is able to sustain an approved post-mining land use.

To deliver on this commitment, the framework proposed by the policy includes a requirement for all large mines in Queensland to develop a Progressive Rehabilitation and Closure Plan (PRC Plan). This will include new mines, as part of their site-specific environmental authority application process. Existing mines will be transitioned into the framework.

The PRC Plan is designed to ensure mines are planned to enhance progressive rehabilitation rates by including clear milestones with set delivery dates. Progress towards milestones will be regularly monitored through annual reporting on past performance and a 3-yearly audit to assess current and future performance.

Public accountability is a key policy objective of the reforms and is included in the PRC plan framework by ensuring consultation occurs where significant changes are proposed to those commitments made in a PRC plan.

The policy was finalised following consultation with industry, community and environmental stakeholders who provided feedback on the Better Mine Rehabilitation for Queensland discussion paper.

Mineral and Energy Resources (Financial Provisioning) Bill 2018

The Mineral and Energy Resources (Financial Provisioning) Bill 2018 was introduced into the Queensland Parliament on 15 February 2018. The Bill has been referred to the Economics and Governance Committee for analysis.

The Bill is the Government’s response to issues raised in the Review of Queensland’s Financial Assurance Framework (PDF) and the Better Mine Rehabilitation for Queensland discussion paper (PDF).

The Bill has two main purposes:

  1. to create the Mineral and Energy Resources (Financial Provisioning) Act 2018 that establishes a financial provisioning scheme to deal with the environmental impacts of resource activities
  2. to amend the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (EP Act) to introduce the new requirements for plans for the progressive closure and rehabilitation of mined land.

The new financial provisioning scheme will replace the current financial assurance framework for resource activities under the EP Act. The Scheme Manager established under the scheme will make a risk category allocation decision for each environmental authority. This may result in the need for a contribution to be made to the scheme fund or provision of surety. The required contribution or amount of surety will be based on the estimated rehabilitation cost (ERC) that will continue to be determined under the EP Act, and provided to the Scheme Manager.

The plan for Progressive Closure and Rehabilitation (the PRC plan) is a new requirement for mine operators that apply for a site-specific environmental authority for a mining lease. This requirement is integrated into the existing environmental authority process, minimising the regulatory burden on government and industry.

The outcome of the process is a stand-alone PRCP schedule, approved by the administering authority and containing rehabilitation milestones and completion dates, as well as conditions for achieving progressive rehabilitation of a mine site. The Bill also provides transitional arrangements for the application of the PRC plan requirements to existing mines.

Estimated Rehabilitation Cost (ERC) Guideline

The guideline, Financial Assurance under the Environmental Protection Act 1994, outlines the policy and approved methodology for the calculation of financial assurance (FA). DES has reviewed this guideline in response to the FA and Rehabilitation reforms which are proposed in the Mineral and Energy Resources (Financial Provisioning) Bill 2018, currently in front of Parliament.

The Department of Environment and Science is reviewing its FA calculators to deliver contemporary calculator rates, improve existing functionality and consider feedback received in 2017. Following this review, the Financial Assurance calculators will be renamed the estimated rehabilitation cost (ERC) calculators.

Together, the ERC calculators and the estimated rehabilitation cost under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 guideline will support the Financial Provisioning Scheme, subject to the passing of the Mineral and Energy Resources (Financial Provisioning) Bill 2018 by Parliament.

The draft ERC guideline (PDF, 753K) and draft application form (PDF, 755K) (for a decision on the ERC) are now available to view for feedback.

Feedback should be sent to by 5pm on 8 May 2018.

The new financial provisions are estimated to take effect on 1 July 2018.

Next steps

To enable Government and industry to prepare for the reforms, the Bill provides for a staged commencement approach.

Once the Bill has become law – following normal Parliamentary consideration, debate and amendments during consideration in detail – the new Act will commence at a date set by proclamation by the Governor in Council.

The transitional provisions in the Bill allow for the PRC plan requirements to come into force at a later date which will be prescribed in the Environmental Protection Regulation 2008.

The department is working on materials to support the new financial provisioning scheme, such as the new ERC calculator and guideline, and for the PRC plan requirements such as the PRC plan guidelines.

Last updated
20 April 2018