The Victorian Government have announced a number of “red tape reforms” designed to reduce regulatory burdens on business in Victoria.
The mining industry will be impacted by four of these reforms:
- Native vegetation offsetting on public land: Currently native vegetation offsets for private land clearing can be sourced only on private land. The government reform will allow native vegetation offsetting on public land, making it cheaper and easier for businesses to meet their native vegetation offsetting obligations.
- Reduced rehabilitation bonds: Currently, rehabilitation bond requirements for mining licence or extractive industry work authority holders require the provision of 100% bonds upfront. Under the government’s reform, where the risk of default is low and additional liability to the Government is minimal, reduced rehabilitation bonds of up to 50% will be allowed during the start-up phase of new mining and quarrying projects. Further, as an alternative to bank guarantees, the government will accept a cash bond for individual bonds up to $10,000, reducing costs and barriers to entry.
- Streamlining of the return of bonds for land rehabilitation: Currently, the process for the return of rehabilitation bonds in the mining sector is protracted. The government reform will simplify the bond return process to ensure that bonds are returned as soon as possible following the successful conclusion of landowner consultation.
- Transition from paper-based to online administration of mining exploration licences: Currently, the administration of mining exploration licences is paper-based. The government reform will move mining application and reporting systems online. It will also enable online searches for existing licences and online applications for new licences.
While relatively limited in scope, these four regulatory reforms are likely to be welcomed by those involved in the energy and resources sectors in Victoria.