Major reforms to mine rehabilitation and the financial “bonds” for mines will better protect the environment and taxpayers, and encourage jobs, more investment and growth in the resources sector.
Treasurer Curtis Pitt, Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham and Environment Minister Steven Miles today outlined the proposed reforms, the most significant upgrade to the state’s multi-billion dollar resources sector financial assurance and rehabilitation framework in nearly 20 years.
The package of comprehensive reforms, includes:
- A redesigned financial assurance framework tailored to operators based on their size and level of risk
- Pooling financial assurance from mining companies into an interest-earning multi-million dollar rehabilitation fund
- More options, such as insurance bonds, to make it easier for miners to provide their financial assurances
- More funds to rehabilitate abandoned mines
- Measures to ensure mined land is rehabilitated progressively rather than toward the end of a mine’s life
- Regular checks and reporting on progressive rehabilitation
- Better planning for rehabilitation and regular monitoring and reporting
- More realistic calculation of rehab costs and a phase out of discounts on financial assurances for miners.
Treasurer Curtis Pitt said the reform package was innovative and struck the right balance between environmental sustainability and the resources sector.
“We recognise the need to mitigate the financial risk to taxpayers if a mining company cannot fulfil its rehabilitation and environmental obligations and balance that by ensuring we don’t create a major cost barrier for the resources sector,” Mr Pitt said.
“Government uses the financial assurances miners provide as a last resort when a resource company doesn’t meet its rehabilitation and environmental obligations.
“We’ve got to get it right to better protect our State and our communities now and into the future by striking the right balance between the environmental challenges associated with mining activities and the economic opportunities and jobs this sector creates for Queensland.”
Minister for State Development and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Dr Anthony Lynham said the proposed reforms would benefit companies who did the right thing.
“The new regime recognises that not all operators are the same, in size and risk, and the new package of reforms will reflect this,” he said.
“Importantly, pooling financial assurances and partnering with the big players will generate more funds to expand our rehabilitation of abandoned mines, a legacy the government manages.
“It will also help drive more rehabilitation research and development to assist the resource industry boost its rehab performance.”
Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection Steven Miles said the reform would also improve progressive rehabilitation and require rehabilitated mine sites to be suitable for another land use post-mining.
“Companies will be required to report self-assessments publicly, face regular checks by the regulator as well as audits every three-to-five years,” Minister Miles said.
“Life of mine plans will set out clear and enforceable completion requirements, giving communities confidence about how companies will meet those goals
“But there are also currently thousands of abandoned mines in Queensland and we want to create a new industry around cleaning these sites up.
“People will be able to have their say on this in the ‘Better Mine Rehabilitation for Queensland’ discussion paper also being released today.
“This will support the development of an expert land management service sector, with the potential to generate jobs and position Queensland operators as leading suppliers of rehabilitation services in Australia.”
The proposed reforms follow an extensive and independent review last year on the existing financial assurance framework.
The first of several discussion papers underpinning the reform proposals is being released today and is open for consultation until 15 June 2017.
The remaining discussion papers will be released over the next year, with the new framework planned to be in place by mid-2018. This new framework is fair and equitable and will ensure Queensland is a world leader in environmental management and rehabilitation in the resources sector.