Special agreement act mines may soon have to comply with
the same environmental protection legislation that applies to
all other mines in Queensland.
In and around the 1960s, numerous special Agreement Acts
were passed by the government of the day to give greater
certainty to mining companies who were making significant
capital investments in times when the economic outlook for the
resources industry in Australia was uncertain.
Over the last 50 years, however, the demand for minerals and
the scale of mining operations has increased worldwide. At the
same time, the community's understanding of
environmental issues has intensified. Accordingly, the
Queensland Government now believes that it is time to act to
ensure that the nine special Agreement Act mines operate under
the same environmental standards that apply to the other 1200
(or so) mines in Queensland.
The Queensland Government intends to bring about this change
through the Environmental Protection and Other Legislation
Amendment Bill 2008, which was tabled in State Parliament by
the Minister for Sustainability, Climate Change and Innovation,
on 11 March 2008.
The Bill amends the Environmental Protection Act 1994
("EP Act"), the Integrated Planning Act 1997 and the
Mineral Resources Act 1989 to provide a process to transition
the nine special Agreement Act mines to environmental
regulation under the EP Act.
The nine mines subject to special Agreement Acts are Mount
Isa, Weipa, Peak Downs, Goonyella, Norwich Park (near Dysart),
Saraji (near Moranbah), Moura, Greenvale and Ely (near
The Bill will convert the environmental authorities that
have existed under the special Agreement Acts into
"transitional authorities (SAA)". The
"transitional authorities (SAA)" are considered to be
non-code compliant authorities issued for a level 1 mining
project under chapter 5 of the EP Act. Also, the holder of a
"transitional authority (SAA)" has to apply for an
environmental authority (mining activities) for a level 1
mining project within three years after the Act, as a result of
the Bill, comes into force.
Importantly, the Bill does not affect any other aspects of
the special Agreement acts (including the right to mine) but
only the environmental regulations. Also, the legislative
changes are not retrospective, and will leave existing
environmental requirements under the special Agreement Acts in
place until the new environmental authority takes effect.
The end result will be uniformity of environmental
obligations for all miners and all mining leases across
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general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should
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