About the program
Mining has occurred in Western Australia (WA) for more than 150 years resulting in thousands of abandoned mine features across the State, such as shafts, costeans, large pit voids and waste rock landforms.
The Abandoned Mines Program was made possible following the enactment of the Mining Rehabilitation Fund Act 2012 (MRF Act) which provides a source of funding to address abandoned mine features in WA. The Mining Rehabilitation Fund (MRF) in part replaced the Unconditional Performance Bond system with an annual industry levy that encourages progressive rehabilitation during mining operations and provides funds for high priority environmental and safety risks associated with abandoned mine features to be addressed. The MRF levy is based on the area of disturbance including land under rehabilitation on tenements that are regulated under the Mining Act 1978 (Mining Act).
The Abandoned Mines Program was formally established following the release of the WA Government’s Abandoned Mines Policy in January 2016.
The department is developing a framework to actively identify and prioritise high risk abandoned mine features so that associated safety and environmental risks can be addressed through suitable management practices and/or site rehabilitation, while protecting the residual mineral value for potential future extraction. The health, safety or environmental risks plus the potential historical, cultural, social, environmental, educational or economic value of these sites inform decisions about risk and future investment.
Stakeholder engagement is a key aspect of the program and input from stakeholders is sought for each project to ensure that stakeholder concerns and expectations are identified and addressed.
The Mining Rehabilitation Advisory Panel (MRAP) which comprises of individuals with extensive experience within industry and environmental fields, provides expert and independent advice on project development and expenditure.
Abandoned Mines Policy
The Abandoned Mines Policy, published in 2016, provides a framework that ensures a consistent approach for the:
- collection of abandoned mine site information,
- prioritisation of sites to be formally gazetted as an abandoned mine, and
- management and/or rehabilitation of abandoned mine sites.
The objectives of the policy are to ensure:
- abandoned mine sites are prioritised in a consistent manner based on agreed criteria
- significant risks to the community and the environment are identified and contribute towards the overall priority to manage and/or rehabilitate an abandoned mine site
- potential value within an abandoned mine site is identified and protected
- tools are in place to support the ongoing capture, analysis and management and/or rehabilitation tracking of abandoned mine site features throughout the State
- an efficient, repeatable methodology is used to plan and implement the management and/or rehabilitation of abandoned mine sites
- outcomes of managed and/or rehabilitated abandoned mine sites are consistent with the WA Government’s Mine Closure Plan objectives i.e. abandoned mine sites to be managed or rehabilitated to be (physically) safe to humans and animals, (geo-technically) stable, (geo-chemically) non-polluting/non-contaminating, and capable of sustaining an agreed post-mining land use.
Abandoned mine projects
The Abandoned Mines Program currently consists of four pilot projects which will test the program’s approach and inform continuous improvement activities across all processes. An unplanned project to address immediate concerns at the Ellendale Diamond Mine in the Kimberley was initiated in late 2015.
Records of abandoned mines
Inventory of abandoned mines 1999-2011
The Abandoned Mines Program extends the work previously undertaken by the department's Geological Survey of Western Australia (GSWA) which commenced development of an inventory of abandoned mine site features in 1999 and published the report “Inventory of Abandoned Mine Sites Progress 1999-2011”. This is available from the DMIRS eBookshop.
Search for records of abandoned mines
The department maintains a comprehensive database of mines where searches can be undertaken of known abandoned mine site features in WA by selecting the ‘Abandoned Mine Features’ menu item in the publicly available Mines and Mineral Deposits (MINEDEX) database.
Access historic mine plans
You can request access to historical mine plans for a complete history of mine activity that has occurred on a tenement through DMIRS’s Safety Regulation Group.
Report an abandoned mine
The department encourages industry and the community to report abandoned mine features. Information provided will assist the department to identify risks and prioritise programs in line with the Abandoned Mines Policy.
Warning: Do not enter abandoned mines
Abandoned mines are dangerous places and people who enter abandoned mines expose themselves to serious injury or death. Some of the hazards associated with these features have been outlined by DMIRS’s Safety Regulation Group.