Hamblin, L & Gardner, A 2022, 'Planning for mine closure: comparative mapping of the regulatory frameworks for mine closure planning in Western Australia, Queensland, and Victoria', in AB Fourie, M Tibbett & G Boggs (eds), Mine Closure 2022: 15th International Conference on Mine Closure
, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 225-236, https://doi.org/10.36487/ACG_repo/2215_13
Mapping the regulatory frameworks for mine closure planning around Australia requires the consideration of several overlapping and enmeshed legal concepts, institutions, powers and processes. It can encompass environmental, economic, social, cultural and climate transitions for the mine site and the surrounding region. Mining can create complex and, in some cases, irreversible impacts, which must be considered pre-emptively to optimise mitigation of any potential damage. Legal and regulatory systems are required to play catch-up with science and culture at the best of times. Mine closure planning is further complicated when anticipating decades worth of mining impacts and conducting mine closure planning with interactions between industry, government and community within an evolving regulatory framework.
Improving efficiency of regulatory evolution requires us to take a comparative approach to the evaluation of existing regulatory mechanisms. Western Australia, Queensland, and Victoria all have prominent mining industries, which have been adapting in recent years to the reformed requirements of mine closure planning. Whilst mines in active closure might present more immediate political challenges, they also serve as a reminder of the importance of continuously improving the mine closure planning process.
This article undertakes a comparative analysis of those three states’ mine closure planning processes to achieve an approved mine closure plan prior to the commencement of mining operations. We take a close look at laws and guidelines regulating minerals resources tenure, and environmental and water access approvals. The article also considers the extent to which each state provides an opportunity for community engagement and comment prior to the grant of mining and environmental approvals. We draw attention to key distinctions between the regulatory approaches taken and suggest pertinent areas for future research and regulatory reform.
Keywords: mine closure, rehabilitation, repurposing, mining, mine planning
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