Authors: Dunlop, J; Nicolson, L; Baker, K; Wildie, S; Clay, M; Purtill, J; Perlatti, F; Kutchenski, FE; Pasti, HA

Open access courtesy of:


Cite As:
Dunlop, J, Nicolson, L, Baker, K, Wildie, S, Clay, M, Purtill, J, Perlatti, F, Kutchenski, FE & Pasti, HA 2023, 'Influence of social and environmental factors on mine rehabilitation in Australia and Brazil', in B Abbasi, J Parshley, A Fourie & M Tibbett (eds), Mine Closure 2023: Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth,

Download citation as:   ris   bibtex   endnote   text   Zotero

Mine rehabilitation laws in Australia and Brazil share similar goals and challenges. However, both countries have a distinct social and environmental context that has led to differences in the regulatory focus in each jurisdiction. Brazil has a clear focus on public reporting and oversight of tailings dam management that reflects both the recent history of dam failures with significant consequences. Although such incidents have led to improved guidance on tailings management in Brazil and internationally, there remains an opportunity for improved public reporting practices to be implemented in Australia to match the level of reporting and transparency in Brazil. In comparison, regulatory reforms in Queensland provide arguably some of the best legislation governing progressive rehabilitation and closure of mines in Australia. These reforms have been driven by a range of factors including several mining companies defaulting on their responsibilities, leaving the sites abandoned and liabilities to rest with the State. Requirements for greater progressive rehabilitation could be strengthened in Brazil and be aligned with environmental approvals as in Queensland. Both countries also share challenges balancing regulation between the federal and state governments. In Brazil, the National Mining Agency (known as the Agência Nacional de Mineração) is responsible for issuing mining permits, assessing compliance with mining regulatory standards, and collating information and data about the mining sector at the national level. While a consistent national approach is advantageous, it may limit local or regional resolution. As an example, environmental licences and mine rehabilitation plans, which are essential documents at the start of the mining process, are issued by State environmental agencies. Each of the 26 States (plus Brasilia) can have specific rules that can make it difficult for the National Mining Agency to manage these aspects. In Australia, regulation, management and reporting on mine rehabilitation is undertaken at the State and territory level. This has led to wide variation in regulatory processes and inconsistent reporting across the country. This paper summarises the rehabilitation laws in Queensland, Australia and Brazil. It describes their strengths and weaknesses and considers some of the social and environmental factors that have influenced the regulatory system used to manage and report on rehabilitation. The paper also identifies the learnings from each jurisdiction that can be applied to identify opportunities for improvement in both countries.

Keywords: mine rehabilitation, regulation, Australia, Brazil

ANM, 2021, Resolução nº 68/21, Dispõe sobre as regras referentes ao Plano de Fechamento de Mina – PFM, Agência Nacional de Mineração, Government of Brasil, Brasília, Brasil.
ANM, 2022, Anuário Mineral Brasileiro - Principais Substâncias Metálicas 2022 (Ano Base 2021) - PRÉVIA. Agência Nacional de Mineração, Available at: .
Annandale, M, Meadows, J & Erskine, P 2021, ‘Indigenous forest livelihoods and bauxite mining: A case-study from northern Australia’, Journal of Environmental Management, 294 (May), p. 113014. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2021.113014.
Cooper, S. 2019, ‘Maximising post-mining land use: Queensland Government reforms’, in Mine Closure 2019: 13th International Conference on Mine Closure. Australian Centre for Geomechanics, pp. 969–982. Available at: (Accessed: 27 May 2022).
DES 2021, Guideline - Progressive rehabilitation and closure plans (PRC plans). Department of Environment and Science, Queensland Government. Available at: .
DISER 2020, Resources and Energy Quarterly. Resources, Department of Industry Science Energy and Resources.
Ferrante, L. & Fearnside, PM, 2020, ‘Brazil threatens Indigenous lands’, Science, 368(6490), pp. 481–482. doi: 10.1126/science.abb6327.
Fundação Estadual do Meio Ambiente (FEAM) 2022, Government of Minas Gerais State, ‘Cadastro de Minas Paralisadas e Abandonadas no Estado de Minas Gerais’, p. 30.
Geoscience Australia 2023, Australian mineral facts, Earth sciences for Australia’s future. Available at: .
Government of Brazil 1966, Lei nº 5.173/66, Plano de Valorização Econômica da Amazônia, 1966, Brasília, Brasil.
Government of Brazil 1967, Código de Mineração. Brasília, Brasil.
Government of Brazil 1981, Lei nº 6.938/81, Política Nacional do Meio Ambiente, 1981, Brasília, Brasil.
Government of Brazil 1988, Constituição da República Federativa do Brasil. Brasília, Brasil.
Government of Brazil 2000, Lei nº 9985/2000, Sistema Nacional de Unidades de Conservação da Natureza (SNUC), 2000, Brasília, Brasil.
Hamblin, L, Gardner, A and Haigh, Y 2022, Mapping the Regulatory Framework of Mine Closure. Perth, Australia: CRC TiME Limited.
Lima, HM, de Flores, JC, do C, and Costa, F L 2006, ‘Plano de recuperação de áreas degradadas versus plano de fechamento de mina: um estudo comparativo’, Rem: Revista Escola de Minas, 59(4), pp. 397–402. doi: 10.1590/s0370-44672006000400008.
Maguire, K 2019, Tailings dams failure risks range from high to extreme in audits by Australian mining giants, ABC Rural. Available at: .
OECD 2022, Recent performance of the mining sector in Brazil, Regulatory Governance in the Mining Sector in Brazil. doi: .
OECD 2023, Mining regulation in Australia, Mining regulation in selected countries. Available at: .
Perlatti, F, Martins, EP, Oliveira, DP, Ruiz, F, Asensio, V, Rezende, CF, Otero, XL & Ferreira, TO, 2021, ‘Copper release from waste rocks in an abandoned mine (NE, Brazil) and its impacts on ecosystem environmental quality’, Chemosphere, 262. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2020.127843.
Purtill, J, Gagen, EJ, and Hamilton, B, 2022, ‘A Brief History of Mine Rehabilitation Reforms in Queensland’, Environmental and Planning Law Journal, 39(1), pp. 64–78.
Queensland Government 2023, Mineral and coal authorities, Business Queensland. Available at: .
Queensland Governmment 2019, Abandoned mines management policy. Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy. Available at: .
da Silva Borges Barbosa, V., Mota de Lima, H. and Fonseca, B. M. (2022) ‘Assessing risks of abandoned urban mines in the UNESCO World Heritage City of Ouro Preto, Brazil’, Applied Geography, 139(December 2021). doi: 10.1016/j.apgeog.2022.102648.
The Guardian 2018, Dam wall collapse at Newcrest-owned Cadia goldmine forces shutdown, Australian Associated Press. Available at: (Accessed: 14 June 2023).
Veiga, MM, & Hinton, JJ, 2002, ‘Abandoned artisanal gold mines in the Brazilian Amazon: A legacy of mercury pollution’, Natural Resources Forum, 26(1), pp. 15–26. doi: 10.1111/1477-8947.00003.
Williams, DJ, 2023, A systematic and systemic review of mined landform stability and its impact on transitioning for regional benefits. CRC TiME Limited. Available at: .

© Copyright 2024, Australian Centre for Geomechanics (ACG), The University of Western Australia. All rights reserved.
View copyright/legal information
Please direct any queries or error reports to