Under proposed amendments to Queensland’s Environmental Protection Act 1994, a progressive rehabilitation and closure plan would be required to accompany a site-specific application for a mining activity relating to a mining lease.

On the eve of calling the State election, the Queensland Government has introduced the Mineral and Energy Resources (Financial Provisioning) Bill 2017 (Bill). The Bill proposes to amend legislation including the Environmental Protection Act 1994, to impose new requirements relating to the environmental impacts of resource activities, including for progressive rehabilitation of mining activities.

Under the proposed amendments, a site-specific application for a mining activity relating to a mining lease would have to be accompanied by a proposed Progressive Rehabilitation and Closure Plan (PRC plan).[1]

The purpose of the PRC Plan will be to ensure that authority holders have planned for carrying out environmentally relevant activities in a way that maximises the progressive rehabilitation of the land, and provides for the condition to which the land must be rehabilitated before an authority can be surrendered.[2]

The PRC Plan will have to include, among other things:[3]

  • a ‘PRCP Schedule’ containing:

    • a description of the post-mining land use for the land;

    • rehabilitation milestones required to achieve a stable condition for the land;

  • proposed rehabilitation methods or techniques;

  • identification of risks;

  • community consultation in developing the Plan; and

  • ongoing consultation in relation to the rehabilitation under the Plan.

The PRC Plan will be subject to the same information request, public notification and decision-making process that applies to applications for an environmental authority under Chapter 5, Parts 3 – 5 of the Environmental Protection Act 1994.

The PRCP Schedule will be attached to an environmental authority when approved,[4] and may be subject to conditions. The Bill proposes to include various offences relating to contravening conditions of a PRCP Schedule.

In light of the looming election, whether the Bill progresses through Parliament and is enacted remains to be seen.