The Supervision and Assessment Unit is part of the Office of the Supervising Scientist (OSS) and carries out supervision and assessment functions in relation to uranium mining in the Alligator Rivers Region.
Tailings Storage Facility at Ranger uranium mine
The Supervision and Assessment unit undertakes the supervision of uranium mining and exploration activities in the Alligator Rivers Region through a system of audits and inspections, and by participating in the Northern Territory regulatory processes of assessing applications for authorisation changes. The outcomes of these activities are considered by the Supervising Scientist together with environmental monitoring data and other information to draw conclusions regarding the effectiveness of environmental management at uranium mining and exploration sites.
Minesite Technical Committees (MTCs) have been established for Ranger, Jabiluka and Nabarlek. The MTC meetings provide a forum for stakeholders, including the Supervising Scientist, to discuss technical environmental management issues, especially in connection with the assessment of applications and reports submitted by mining companies for approval under Northern Territory legislation. Each MTC is made up of representatives from the NT Department of Resources (DoR) which provides the Chair for the MTC, the Office of the Supervising Scientist (OSS), the Northern Land Council (NLC) and the relevant mining company. Other organisations or experts may be co-opted from time to time as required to assist MTC members.
Audits and inspections
Inspecting the Jabiluka Interim Water Management Pond
Supervision and Assessment, in consultation with the applicable MTC members, has developed and implemented a program of inspections and environmental audits at Ranger, Jabiluka and Nabarlek.
Routine Periodic Inspections (RPI) take place monthly at Ranger and quarterly at Jabiluka and are intended to provide a snapshot of environmental management as well as an opportunity for the inspection team to discuss environmental management issues with staff on site. These discussions include any unplanned events or reportable incidents and any associated follow-up actions. The inspection team is made up of representatives from OSS, DoR and the NLC.
Environmental audits are conducted by a team of qualified audit staff from OSS, DoR and the NLC. The Ranger and Jabiluka program of audits is designed to cover all major aspects of environmental management over a three year cycle. The Annual Environmental Audit occurs in May to assess each site under end-of-wet season conditions as well as allowing enough time for the audit report to be completed and tabled at the August meeting of the Alligator Rivers Region Advisory Committee (ARRAC). The Nabarlek program is slightly different in that an inspection is carried out early in the dry season and the Annual Environmental Audit is conducted in November.
More information on ARRAC is available at
Mill and pit at Ranger uranium mine
There are Environmental Requirements (ERs) stipulated by the Commonwealth for each uranium mine in the Alligator Rivers Region. These ERs are the primary criteria by which the Supervising Scientist assesses the performance of, and proposals put forth by, mining companies.
The General Authorisations for the Ranger mine and the Jabiluka project are issued under the Northern Territory Mining Management Act 2001 and are essentially the same as those operating under the previous Uranium Mining (Environment Control) Act 1979. The Act provides for alterations to the Authorisation to be issued by the Northern Territory Government. The Mining Management Act 2001 requires that Energy Resources of Australia Pty Ltd (ERA) seeks approval for certain activities (outside of those approved in the current Authorisation) from DoR. The Memorandum of Understanding between the Commonwealth and NT Governments in relation to this matter requires that where OSS (on behalf of the Supervising Scientist) provides comment on an application, DoR must give effect to those comments in finalising the approval to the mining company. This is the primary mechanism whereby the Supervising Scientist participates in the regulatory processes of the Northern Territory Government.
- See also Ranger Environmental Requirements Section 19.2 Explanatory Material: Best Practicable Technology, 16 November 2000 (published by Supervising Scientist Division, Darwin NT)
Supervision and Assessment is also responsible for the investigation of incidents that have the potential for significant offsite environmental impact or radiological exposure. More information can be found at:
Supervision and Assessment undertakes the analysis and communication of results from the Supervising Scientist Division’s various monitoring programs, including surface water chemistry. Information on the surface water chemistry monitoring program including location maps, result charts and explanatory notes can be found at
More information about uranium mining in the Alligator Rivers Region is also available: