Laws were passed by State Parliament today with new requirements for the progressive rehabilitation of mined land and provisions to safeguard taxpayers from hefty clean up bills for failed mines.
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.
“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,” she said.
“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.”
Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Minister Anthony Lynham said the Bill included a number of clauses which would improve outcomes for the resources sector.
“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’,” he said.
“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.
Queensland Resources Council (QRC) chief executive Ian Macfarlane thanked the Palaszczuk Government, Deputy Premier Jackie Trad and Katter’s Australia Party for the willingness to consult industry on amendments to the bill, and to uphold the commitment there would be no retrospectivity.
“If the laws were applied retrospectively to existing mines, this would have had devastating consequences for existing jobs and future investment,” he said.
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.