Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston has announced a new guidance for the rehabilitation of Western Australian mine sites. The guidance is titled ‘A framework for developing mine-site completion criteria in Western Australia’ and outlines environmental criteria that mine operators can use to demonstrate they have successfully and sustainably rehabilitated their site after mining.
The work is the first in Australia to be produced by government agencies, leading science experts and a wide range of industry representatives. It was developed by the Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute and endorsed by the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety. While the new guidance primarily targets the resources sector, other industries can potentially use the guidance when undertaking ecological restoration. A copy of the guidance is available at wabsi.org.au/category/publications/
Johnston stated: “The new Western Australian guidance for mine closure is a great example of government and industry working together to deliver better rehabilitation outcomes for our State. It provides industry with greater clarity and consistency in the development of mine closure plans across different locations and commodities. Effective mine closure is critical to ensure the long-term environmental sustainability of the industry. Working together with industry to improve regulation and regulatory practice is a key part of the McGowan Government’s Streamline WA initiative.”
The report Executive Summary states: “The development of acceptable and achievable completion criteria is a necessary part of mine closure planning and fundamental to the successful transition of mined land to a future use. Completion criteria have been defined in the mining context as agreed standards or levels of performance that indicate the success of rehabilitation and enable an operator to determine when its liability for an area will cease. Once achieved, they demonstrate to the mining company, regulators and other stakeholders that financial assurances and liabilities can be removed. Because of this important function it is imperative that completion criteria are effectively formulated to capture end-state goals, are accepted by all stakeholders and agreed by regulators and the proponent, are achievable, and can demonstrate this achievement through transparent and appropriate monitoring and documentation. While considerable progress has been made in mine closure and rehabilitation planning in Western Australia, there remains a need to build capacity and understanding of how to best measure rehabilitation success and to set practical outcomes and measurable completion criteria, particularly with respect to environmental parameters. To address this gap, The Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute (WABSI) has brought together leading experts, mining industry representatives and regulatory agencies to develop this report.”