Australia: New safety laws added to overlapping tenure regime with passage of Water Reform and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2014 (Qld)

HG Water Alert: 1 December 2014
Last Updated: 4 December 2014
Article by Martin Klapper and Rob McEvoy

On 26 November 2014, the Queensland Parliament passed the Water Reform and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2014 (Amendment Act).

Among other changes (concerned with water law reform), the Amending Act introduces new safety laws designed to provide greater guidance to both the coal and coal seam gas (CSG) industries about their safety obligations when in an overlapping tenure situation.

This is principally achieved through amendments to the Coal Mining Safety and Health Act 1999 (CMSH Act), the Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004 (PG Act) and the Mineral Resources Regulation 2013 (MR Reg).

The new safety laws are in addition to the new overlapping tenure regime, recently enacted under the Minerals and Energy (Common Provisions) Act 2014 (Common Provisions Act). They, and the new regime, will commence by order of the Queensland Government (expected in early 2015).

The key changes include:

  • a requirement for overlapping coal and CSG parties to agree a joint interaction management plan (JIMP) before coal mining commences or CSG infrastructure is operated in the overlapping area; and
  • compulsory and final arbitration of the terms of the JIMP, where agreement cannot be reached within three months of the CSG party receiving it.

Additionally, the amendments harmonise some key terminology under the CMSH Act, the PG Act and the MR Reg, so that the parties are speaking a common language when managing overlapping safety risks and hazards.

In this Alert, Senior Associate Rob McEvoy discusses the core changes to mining and petroleum safety legislation and explains the types of overlaps to which the new laws will apply. From this discussion, we recommend that a coal party in an overlapping area does the following:

  • Open a dialogue with any overlapping CSG parties to identify and discuss the management and documentation of applicable safety risks and hazards.
  • Review and amend existing safety overlap plans (for example, under a Co-Development Agreement) so that it is compliant with the new laws.
  • Prepare a compliance manual for the senior site executive (SSE) so that he or she will not inadvertently breach the many new responsibilities and procedures of this key safety position.
  • If the transitional provisions apply, develop a 'transition plan' about how you will comply with the new laws upon their commencement (or expiry of any 'grace periods').

Our previous Alert – covering the law reform under the Common Provisions Act and implications of the new overlap regime – is accessible here.

We note that the summary of legal changes set out by this Alert are of a general nature only and that specific advice should be sought for particular questions or matters that arise.

Core changes to the CMSH Act

The new safety laws are inserted into the CMSH Act as a new Division 3A, Part 4 (New Coal Laws).

Agreement of the JIMP

The principal requirement under the New Coal Laws is for the SSE for the coal mine to make a JIMP with each CSG party conducting petroleum activities in the overlapping area, about the applicable safety risks and hazards. Importantly, coal mining cannot commence in the overlapping area until this is done and JIMP notified to the Minister.

The intention is that the SSE will consult with the principal CSG operator in the overlapping area, who in turn will consult with any other active CSG parties and coordinate those parties input into the JIMP.

The SSE must give the operator(s) a draft plan and negotiate any reasonable provisions which are proposed and, if agreement is not reached within 3 months from the plan's receipt, apply for arbitration of any disputes so the plan is resolved.

Arbitration is the same as for the new overlap regime – fast and final – however it is noteworthy that any final agreements which are determined will not limit the authority of the coal inspectorate to regulate in accordance with its powers under the CMSH Act.

Once agreed (whether voluntarily or by arbitral award), the JIMP becomes part of the mine's safety and health management system and must be stored or kept with the other parts of the system. It must also be available for review by overlapping operators.

Content of the JIMP

The JIMP must identify the initial mining area, the rolling mining area and any simultaneous operations zone – key concepts under the new overlap regime – in the overlapping area (the parties may not have identified these areas under bespoke arrangements). It must be documented in a way that makes it capable of being audited.

Other requirements for the JIMP relate to identifying hazards and risks to be controlled and triggers or material changes which must be monitored and which will require the plan to be reviewed. Response procedures and times and reporting procedures are also included. Proposed or likely interactions with other persons in the overlapping area and associated risks from the interactions must be documented, together with the safety responsibilities of each person including stating the names of key safety persons responsible for operating plant in the overlapping area.

The JIMP must also include a description of the way it will be reviewed and revised (including through ongoing consultation) and the way in which the details of any new SSE or other senior person in the management structure for the mine will be communicated to all operators. Further requirements for the content of the JIMP may be expanded upon through regulations.

Other changes

Currently only the Commissioner can prosecute offences under the CMSH Act. The Amending Act expands this jurisdiction to include the Minister, or delegate of the Minister who is an 'appropriately qualified person' (eg Deputy Director-General or chief inspector).

The Amending Act also widens the qualifications criteria for appointing the Commissioner, on the basis they are overly restrictive given the scope of the role. A person with a law degree (and experience in the advocacy of mine safety matters), or at least 10 years experience in a senior position relating to mine safety, are now eligible.

Core changes to the PG Act

The new safety laws are inserted into the PG Act as a new Subdivision 1, Division 5, Part 4, Chapter 9 (New CSG Laws). They are effectively the same as the requirements for the SSE, except this time it is the petroleum operator that must make the JIMP before carrying out activities in the overlapping area. The plan must apply to all operators of operating plant in the overlapping area.

The New CSG Laws also provide that any final agreement determined by arbitration will not limit the authority of the gas inspectorate to regulate in accordance with its powers under the PG Act.

Core changes to the MR Reg

The new safety laws are also inserted into Chapter 2, Part 4, Division 4 of the MR Reg, for consistency.

When do the changes apply?

The New Coal Laws will apply from commencement to coal tenures (mining lease (ML), exploration permit for coal (EPC), or mineral development licence (coal) (MDL)) that become overlapping with petroleum tenures (petroleum lease (PL) or authority to prospect (ATP)).

However, they will not apply:

  • to overlapping coal mining and petroleum leases which are already subject to chapter 2, part 4, division 4 of the MR Reg (to avoid duplication); and
  • for a period of 6 months (to allow a 'grace period' for compliance) to coal mining operations carried out under an EPC or MDL overlapping an ATP or PL, if an activity under an ATP or PL is also carried out in the overlapping area.

Broadly, the New CSG Laws will apply to CSG "operating plant" that operates or is to operate in the area of a coal mining tenement and the operation of the plant will physically affect or may physically affect the mining of coal under the tenement. "Operating Plant" is as defined by section 670 of the PG Act and includes most CSG infrastructure – plant and equipment used to extract, process and treat CSG and produced water and pipelines for transporting petroleum – and authorised petroleum activities.

However, again there is a 'grace period' of 6 months (before compliance is mandatory) for:

  • operating plant in the above-mentioned circumstances; and
  • activities carried out under an ATP in an overlapping area, if coal mining operations under an EPC, MDL or ML are also carried out in the overlapping area.

Amendment of water rights for MDL, ML and petroleum tenure holders

The Amendment Act amends the Water Act and Mineral Resources Act to reflect that the holder of an ML or MDL is authorised to take or interfere with underground water in the area of the licence or lease, where the taking or interference happens during the course of, or results from, the holder's authorised activities (this water is defined as "associated water"). Water that is otherwise taken or interfered with will still require a water licence under the Water Act.

It is important to note that this underground water right is limited to incidental take that is reasonably necessary and cannot be reasonably avoided in carrying out authorised activities to extract the mineral resource. The amendment is not intended to provide a right to take or interfere with water for any use, although it does permit the holder to make use of water that is incidentally taken.

The new provisions also attempt to provide more certainty and consistency to landholders whose bores may be affected by mine dewatering activities, as the make good obligations in Chapter 3 of the Water Act will apply to the take of associated water by all holders of MLs and MDLs.

For petroleum tenure holders, the take of underground water is not subject to the same assessment as applies to mining and other sectors. Instead, the take of both associated and non-associated water is a statutory right under the PG Act. The Amending Act establishes a more consistent framework for managing access to Queensland's underground water resources including the take of non-associated water for the petroleum and gas sector, by limiting the statutory right to apply only to the take of associated water. As a consequence of this amendment, a petroleum tenure holder will be required to obtain a water entitlement before extracting non-associated water in a regulated area, allowing the take of non-associated water to be managed in accordance with the planning and allocation process under Chapter 2 of the Water Act

© HopgoodGanim Lawyers

Award-winning law firm HopgoodGanim offers commercially-focused advice, coupled with reliable and responsive service, to clients throughout Australia and across international borders.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

    By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions