Mining rehabilitation reforms
The Queensland Government is working to improve rehabilitation and financial assurance outcomes in the resources sector through the delivery of a broad package of reforms.
The reform package proposes to deliver:
- a higher level of environmental performance
- rehabilitation investment in the State’s resources industry
- better protection of the State’s financial interests.
A key milestone in the delivery of this reform package was the passage of the Mineral and Energy Resources (Financial Provisioning) Act 2018 by the Queensland Parliament on 14 November 2018.
Managing residual risks in Queensland's resources industry
The Managing Residual Risks in Queensland discussion paper presented a range of proposals to strengthen the State’s residual risk framework. Residual risks are those risks remaining at a rehabilitated resource site once surrender of the environmental authority has occurred.
The consultation period concluded on 1 February 2019. The Department of Environment and Science has considered all public submissions received and the results have been summarised in the Queensland Government Consultation Report – Managing Residual Risk in Queensland Discussion Paper .
Departmental representatives will continue to engage with stakeholders on key components of the residual risk policy as it progresses.
Mineral and Energy Resources (Financial Provisioning) Act 2018
The Mineral and Energy Resources (Financial Provisioning) Act 2018 (MERFP Act) forms a key part of the Queensland Government’s response to issues raised in the Review of Queensland’s Financial Assurance Framework and the Better Mine Rehabilitation for Queensland discussion paper.
The MERFP Act includes provisions that commence by proclamation from 1 April 2019 that:
- replace the financial assurance arrangements for resource activities under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 with a new financial provisioning scheme, and change how the estimated rehabilitation cost for an environmental authority is calculated.
- amend the Environmental Protection Act 1994 to introduce new requirements for the progressive rehabilitation and closure of mined land.
Financial provisioning scheme
The new financial provisioning scheme will be managed by a scheme manager and financial assurance will be provided by paying a contribution to a financial provisioning fund and/or the giving of surety to the scheme manager. The scheme manager is a statutory officer and will manage the fund contributions and the sureties on behalf of the State. The Scheme commencement date is 1 April 2019.
For the scheme manager to make a decision on the required financial provisioning scheme contribution or amount of surety, the Department of Environment and Science (department) will provide the scheme manager with its determination of the estimated rehabilitation cost (ERC). This determination will be made under the Environmental Protection Act 1994. The scheme manager will then apply a risk assessment framework to make its decision.
Estimated Rehabilitation Cost (ERC) Guideline
The existing ‘Financial Assurance under the Environmental Protection Act 1994’ guideline is being amended for financial assurance for prescribed environmentally relevant activities only. A new ERC guideline (for resource activities) is also being developed to support commencement of the MERFP Act.
The former Financial Assurance calculators are being renamed as estimated rehabilitation cost (ERC) calculators and updated to improve functionality and ensure the rates are contemporary.
Together, the ERC calculators and the guideline ‘Estimated rehabilitation cost under the Environmental Protection Act 1994' will support the financial provisioning scheme. These resources will be available on the Business and Industry portal.
Progressive rehabilitation and closure of mined land
The Mineral Resources and Energy (Financial Provisioning) Act 2018 amends the Environmental Protection Act 1994 to implement key elements of the Mined Land Rehabilitation Policy and introduce the new requirement for a Progressive Rehabilitation and Closure Plan (PRC plan).
While the commencement date for the financial provisioning scheme was 1 April 2019, the PRC plan requirements will commence on a date prescribed by regulation that is no later than 1 November 2019 (known as the PRCP start date).
The requirements will be integrated into the existing environmental authority processes for new mines, minimising the regulatory burden on industry and government. All mining projects that make a site-specific environmental authority application relating to a mining lease will be required to provide a PRC plan. If approved by the administering authority, a stand-alone Progressive Rehabilitation and Closure Plan schedule (PRCP schedule) will be given to the applicant together with the environmental authority. The PRCP schedule will contain milestones with completion dates for achieving progressive rehabilitation of the mine site.
The MERFP Act also provides transitional arrangements for the application of the PRC plan requirement to existing mines.
Progressive rehabilitation and closure plan (PRC plan) guideline
The progressive rehabilitation and closure plan (PRC plan) guideline is being developed to support the new rehabilitation reforms introduced through the Mineral Resources and Energy (Financial Provisioning) Act 2018.
A draft PRC plan guideline and approved form were released for public comment from 24 May 2019 to 21 June 2019. Feedback is now being considered and incorporated where appropriate. The guideline and approved form will be finalised and published prior to the PRCP start date.
Where can I find more information?
Visit the Queensland Treasury’s website for more information about the financial provisioning scheme and the broader package of reforms.
For more information about the mine rehabilitation reform and the estimated rehabilitation cost read the frequently asked questions.
For any other queries about the mining rehabilitation reform please email