National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development

Prepared by the Ecologically Sustainable Development Steering Committee
Endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments
December, 1992
ISBN 0 644 27253 8

Part 2 Sectoral Issues - Chapter 5


To further develop the mining industry in a way which manages the renewable and non-renewable resources on which it depends in an efficient manner which is also consistent with the principles of ESD.

Strategic Approach

This will be achieved by ensuring exploration and mining activities are conducted in accordance with the principles underlying this Strategy. The primary focus of action will be on improving opportunities for ecologically sustainable minerals and energy development through: enhanced decision making; achieving a high standard of environmental and occupational health and safety performance; strengthening the geoscientific information base; optimising the economic return to the community from mining; and improving consultative mechanisms.

In addition, strategies adopted in two of the intersectoral issues - land use planning and decision making (part 3, section 13) and the nature conservation system (part 3, section 10) are of particular significance to the mining industry.

Objective 5.1

  • to ensure minesites are rehabilitated to sound environmental and safety standards, and to a level at least consistent with the condition of surrounding land

Governments will:

  • encourage the Australian and New Zealand Minerals and Energy Council (ANZMEC) in conjunction with ANZECC to finalise and introduce guidelines for the rehabilitation of abandoned minesites
  • continue to work through ANZMEC to develop a policy framework for rehabilitation of operational minesites which is based on ESD principles. Intrinsic elements of the policy framework will include:
    • restoring land to a level of maintenance at least equal to similar land use in the area;
    • transparency of rehabilitation bond systems;
    • providing incentives for improved environmental performance through security bond arrangements;
    • openness to public scrutiny of rehabilitation requirements;
    • treating environmental management, rehabilitation and abandonment as an integral component of the planning and operation of mines

Objective 5.2

  • to provide appropriate community returns for using mineral resources and achieve better environmental protection and management in the mining sector
Governments will:
  • continue work to progressively replace pseudo royalties with more transparent, efficient and direct mechanisms
  • cooperatively attempt to reduce the variability between States and Territories in royalty rates and mechanisms, and to consider replacing volume and value-based royalty systems
  • encourage ANZMEC to continue empirical studies which are relevant to guiding future royalty policy
  • look at introducing minimum environmental standards for existing mines
  • encourage introduction of a system of professional qualifications for quarry managers
  • pursue at the State and Territory level mechanisms for improving efficiency, and performance in areas such as resource loss from minesite abandonment, inefficient mining practices, environmental monitoring, preparation of environmental management plans and environmental audits, and publication of mining and exploration proposals
  • continue to work at the international level to seek cooperation and information on more effective mechanisms for the production and use of minerals, and technology transfer, in consultation with industry

Objective 5.3

  • to improve community consultation and information, improve performance in occupational health and safety and achieve social equity objectives

Governments will:

  • promote better relations between mining, Aboriginal and government interests through a new committee, which has been established by the National Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation and includes representatives from each of these groups
  • utilise the National Mining Roundtable as a means of improving communication and understanding between mining representatives and interested parties from the broader community, and to provide a self-directed and forward looking forum for discussion of progress toward ESD in the mining sector
  • give further consideration to establishment of similar consultative bodies at the State and Territory level
  • examine the possibility of providing greater scope for public participation in the current review of onshore mining legislation
  • pursue at the Commonwealth level, development of improved statistics on environmental expenditures and minerals intensity; and more efficient ways to use resources, reduce waste and increase levels of recycling