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 considered all public submissions received and the results have been summarised in the Queensland Government Consultation Report – Managing Residual Risk in Queensland Discussion Paper .
After consideration of the public submissions, the existing residual risks framework was amended.
The new residual risks framework commenced on the 20 August 2020 and provide industry with greater clarity and certainty regarding the rehabilitation and surrender of resources sites. The new framework will:
- require a post-surrender management report to accompany an environmental authority surrender application for a resource activity
- specify the information required to be included in a post-surrender management report, such as a risk assessment of the land
- introduce the Residual Risk Assessment Guideline to ensure a consistent, transparent approach is used for assessing residual risks in Queensland
- remove provisions allowing residual risk payments to be collected as part of progressive certification
- provide clarification that residual risk payments may also be collected for non-use management areas in addition to rehabilitated areas
- require residual risks to be noted on the relevant land title where a risk management plan exists
- establish a ‘scheme fund’ under the MERFP Act to consistently manage residual risk payments.
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:
- replaced 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.
- amended the Environmental Protection Act 1994 to introduce new requirements for the progressive rehabilitation and closure of mined land.
Financial provisioning scheme
The financial provisioning scheme commenced on 1 April 2019. Financial assurance is 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 who manages the fund contributions and the sureties on behalf of the State.
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.
A major review of the ERC framework has been undertaken and the revised framework took effect on 1 October 2022. The department has prepared a series of training videos for the revised ERC calculators.
For more information about the ERC, including resources for the revised framework, visit the Business Queensland financial assurance for resource activities page.
Progressive rehabilitation and closure of mined land
The Mineral Resources and Energy (Financial Provisioning) Act 2018 amended the Environmental Protection Act 1994 and the Environmental Protection (Rehabilitation Reform) Amendment Regulation 2019 implements key elements of the Mined Land Rehabilitation Policy . This includes introducing the new requirements for a Progressive Rehabilitation and Closure Plan (PRC plan).
The PRC plan requirements commenced on 1 November 2019 (known as the PRCP start date) and have been integrated into the existing environmental authority processes for new mines.
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.
Transitional arrangements are in place for the application of the PRC plan requirements to existing mines.
For more information on PRC plans visit the Business Queensland page on PRC plans.
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.
Visit the Business Queensland website for more information on ERC and PRC plans.