New laws passed by State Parliament will compel mining companies to sign up to progressive rehabilitation plans and safeguard taxpayers from hefty clean up bills for failed mines.
The Mineral and Energy Resources (Financial Provisioning) Bill, passed late this afternoon, delivers:
- New requirements for the planning and delivery of progressive rehabilitation of mined land, and;
- a financial provisioning scheme to ensure funding is available to cover rehabilitation costs when resource companies can’t meet their rehabilitaton or environmental management obligations.
Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad told Parliament the reforms struck the right balance for the industry, the environment and the community and would support the expansion of the mine rehabilitation sector, and jobs, in regional Queensland.
“These ground-breaking reforms strike the right balance between a strong and thriving resource sector and world class environmental standards around rehabilitation,” the Deputy Premier said.
“The resource sector is a great contributor to the Queensland economy, providing jobs for many Queenslanders, however we have an obligation to ensure their activity is sustainable and benefits Queenslanders in the long term.
“The new laws will compel mining companies to progressively rehabilitate mined land so we don’t leave a legacy of abandoned mines for future generations.
“They will also ensure mining companies, not Queensland taxpayers, foot the bill for the rehabilitation of failed mines or stranded assets.
“This is what the community expects and we will hold companies to their word and demand best practice rehabilitation.”
Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the Bill lays out clearly the expectation for areas of land to be rehabilitated and the responsibility for resource companies to prepare progressive rehabilitation and closure plans.
“Protecting Queensland’s environment is paramount and this Bill sets out the expected actions right from the planning stage, through to the requirements once the resource operation has finished,” Ms Enoch said.
“Planning for this closure is clearly best practice and will also ensure rehabilitation is effective and efficient and results in suitable environmental and community outcomes once mining finishes.
“While mining companies have always been expected to undertake rehabilitation activities, the requirement of having progressive rehabilitation and closure plans will result in a more transparent framework for industry, the community and government regulators.
“And importantly, as more rehabilitation is undertaken over the life of Queensland resource operations, these reforms will encourage long-term, regionally-based job opportunities.”
Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Anthony Lynham said the Bill provided a number of key benefits for the resources sector – one of the State’s largest employers and contributors to the economy.
“There are a number of clauses in the legislation which will improve outcomes for the resources sector,” said Dr Lynham.
“I was pleased in particular to see that the Queensland Resources Council’s submission on the Bill noted that the ‘financial provision components of the Bill make sense’.
“Importantly too, the Bill provides more options for resources companies to provide the required sureties, including the introduction of insurance bonds.
“Providing a wider range of acceptable sureties will expand the market of surety providers, and due to increased competition, will enable the industry to obtain these at a more cost-effective rate.”
Dr Lynham said another important benefit of the new financial provisioning scheme was the increased money available to enhance the State’s abandoned mines program as well as to invest in research and development of rehabilitation techniques for mining and resources activities.
The new legislation is the critical first step in meeting Labor’s commitment to implement the findings of the 2017 Review of Queensland’s financial assurance framework.
The commencement of the reforms will be staged, with the financial provisioning component commencing in the first half of next year and the new rehabilitation process beginning later in 2019.