After lapsing due to the Queensland State election, last year’s proposed amendments to the Environmental Protection Act 1994 have been reintroduced. The changes would require a progressive rehabilitation and closure plan to accompany a site-specific application for a mining activity relating to a mining lease.
Progressive rehabilitation requirements were first proposed in Queensland late last year, in the Mineral and Energy Resources (Financial Provisioning) Bill 2017, which lapsed when the Parliament was dissolved before the Queensland State election. You can read our previous article on this here.
This proposal has now been reintroduced in the Mineral and Energy Resources (Financial Provisioning) Bill 2018 (Bill), with provisions that are substantially similar to those in the draft legislation introduced late last year.
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).
The purpose of a 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.
A PRC Plan will have to include, among other things:
- a ‘PRCP Schedule’ containing:
- a description of the post-mining land use for the land; and
- rehabilitation milestones required to achieve a stable condition for the land;
- proposed rehabilitation methods or techniques;
- identification of risks;
- community consultation in developing the PRC Plan; and
- ongoing consultation in relation to the rehabilitation under the PRC 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, and may be subject to conditions, which would apply even if the environmental authority was suspended. The Bill proposes to include various offences relating to contravening conditions of a PRCP Schedule.
The Bill was referred to the Economics and Governance Committee on 15 February 2018 for consideration. Submissions are open until 12pm, Friday 9 March 2018, with the Committee due to table its report by 20 April 2018.