Director's foreword

Executive Director, Environment, Phil Gorey

Executive Director, Environment, Phil Gorey

Welcome to this year's second edition of the Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) Environment eNewsletter.

In this edition we gain insight into the department's recent activities relating to the RER program and advisory panel, as well as the restructure of the Environment Division.

You will also find important reminders and updates on the Mining Rehabilitation Fund (MRF) and regular topics such as the status of DMP's electronic lodgement system.

I hope you enjoy this edition of the Environment eNewsletter.

Update on the RER program

Since the last eNewsletter, the Reforming Environmental Regulation Advisory Panel (RER Advisory Panel) has been officially established. The panel, whose role is to provide advice on the development of the environmental regulation reforms recommended in the Ministerial Advisory Panel (MAP) report, comprises industry, community, conservation and government representatives. The first meeting was held on 17 May 2013 and will continue on a bi-monthly basis.

Recommendations from the MAP report are being implemented by the department. This includes:

Agendas, minutes and papers from the meetings can be viewed on the RER Advisory Panel web page.

Contact: Simon Skevington (08) 9222 3632



Mining Rehabilitation Fund update

Mining Rehabilitation Fund update

Mining Rehabilitation Fund update

The Mining Rehabilitation Fund (MRF), a new pooled industry fund which largely replaces the environmental unconditional performance bond policy, commenced on a voluntary ‘opt in’ basis on 1 July 2013.

The voluntary opt-in period has so far attracted about 600 tenement holders to register for the voluntary period; and the Western Australian Government has retired over $100 million in environmental unconditional performance bonds.

The voluntary opt-in period will only be available for the first year of the fund and conclude on 30 June 2014 when it becomes mandatory for industry to join. All tenement holders operating under Mining Act 1978 tenure are required to submit disturbance data before 1 July 2014 for the start of the compulsory period.

The Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) contacted all tenement holders in May 2013 to provide instructions for online registration for the MRF. DMP will also contact tenement holders who have not yet registered to ensure they are aware of their obligations under the Mining Rehabilitation Fund Act 2012.  

The department has produced a fact sheet on eligibility criteria for voluntary entry into the MRF and outlines the process to register, opt in, enter disturbance data and request the retirement of unconditional performance bonds. The factsheet and other additional information are available from the MRF information page on DMP’s website.

For all enquiries about the MRF please email or phone (08) 9222 3162.

Mining Rehabilitation Fund advisory panel

A new advisory panel to help shape the future of the Mining Rehabilitation Fund (MRF) will be created later this year.

DMP is seeking expressions of interest for the advisory panel which will be established under the Mining Rehabilitation Fund Act 2012. The advisory panel will consist of five members appointed by the Director General of DMP.

The role of the panel will include defining and identifying abandoned mines, the prioritisation and scope for rehabilitation and the administration of the fund.

DMP is seeking individuals to nominate who have skills, expertise or experience in at least one of the following areas:

Anyone looking to submit an expression of interest should review the MRF fact sheet, the Mining Rehabilitation Fund Regulations 2013 and the Mining Rehabilitation Fund Act 2012.

Expressions of interest to the MRF Advisory Panel close on 6 September 2013.

More information, including how to apply, is available from the MRF information page on DMP's website.

The Register of National Estate – do native vegetation clearing exemptions apply?

In 2012, amendments were made to the Australian Heritage Council Act 2003, Commonwealth legislation under which the Register of National Estate (RNE) was previously administered.

These amendments have resulted in uncertainty from industry proponents as to whether these RNE areas continue to operate as Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESAs). This is a significant issue given its implications with respect to the application of native vegetation clearing exemptions.

DMP's Environment Division has received advice that the ESA categories listed under the current Environmental Protection (Environmentally Sensitive Areas) Notice 2005 (the ESA Notice) remain fixed until such time that a revised ESA Notice is gazetted.

The effect of this advice is that clearing permits will be required for any clearing activities proposed within areas on the RNE unless other valid exemptions apply. The ESA data set is publicly available through the Native Vegetation Map Viewer spatial tool.

Native vegetation clearing exemptions

The clearing of native vegetation is prohibited in Western Australia unless the clearing is conducted in accordance with a clearing permit or exemption set out in legislation. There are two main sources of exemptions for clearing:

The exemptions under Regulation 5 of the Clearing Regulations are often utilised by resource companies, particularly Items 24 and 25, which relate to clearing for exploration related purposes. These exemptions can be applied where the native vegetation is not located within an ESA and the activity has been duly authorised under the relevant mining or petroleum legislation.

The ESA notice

The ESA Notice describes a list of categories declared by the Minister for Environment to have environmental values which are significant enough to warrant their gazettal as ESAs. Included in the listing of ESAs are areas on the Register of National Estate due to their natural heritage value under the Australian Heritage Council Act 2003 (the AHC Act). In excess of 13,000 places are included on the Register, including a combination of natural and cultural heritage places in Australia.

Background – a new system for heritage protection

A new system for national heritage protection was introduced on 1 January 2004 under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). Stemming from this was the creation of a National Heritage List which resulted in duplication of sites on this list and the RNE. Due to the significant amount of overlap of sites on the RNE and National Heritage List, changes to the EPBC Act were enacted which had the effect of freezing the RNE. On 19 February 2007, the RNE was frozen whereby no places could be added or removed from the Register. A five year transitioning period was applied during which time the RNE continued to have statutory effect.

On 19 February 2012, all references to the RNE were removed from the EPBC Act and AHC Act. As a consequence of these legislative amendments, the RNE now exists as an archive list only with no statutory basis. These changes may have caused some uncertainty in relation to the ESA status of areas on the RNE as a revised ESA Notice has not been gazetted to reflect the legislative changes.  Contributing to the lack of clarity had been the removal of RNE areas from the ESA data set which is publicly available through the Native Vegetation Map Viewer spatial tool.

DMP encourages proponents to contact officers from the Environment Division to determine whether their proposed activities will require a native vegetation clearing permit.

Enquiries can be directed to Ryan Mincham, Team Leader – Operations, Environment on (08) 9222 3587.

Click here to view the Native Vegetation Map 

Consultation - Proposed amendments to mining legislation

As part of the Reforming Environmental Regulation program, the department is proposing a number of amendments to environmental requirements under the Mining Act 1978, Mining Regulations 1981, Mining Rehabilitation Fund Act 2012 and the Mining Rehabilitation Fund Regulations 2013. 

These amendments are aimed at increasing transparency, streamlining approvals and strengthening compliance, and aim to ensure the ongoing development of the State's resources for the benefit of all Western Australians, whilst minimising environmental impacts.

The amendments will also support the compulsory introduction of the Mining Rehabilitation Fund on 1 July 2014.

On 27 August 2013 a consultation paper was released by the department to explain the proposed amendments. This consultation paper is available for public comment until 27 September 2013.

All submissions will be reviewed by DMP before the proposed amendments are finalised and presented to the government.

For queries and submission instructions please refer to the consultation paper.

Completion of senior staffing for the Operations Directorate

A key initiative in the implementation of Reforming Environmental Regulation (RER) initiative outlined in 2012, by the Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) was the restructure of the Environment Division.

The addition of two key senior staff to the environment operations directorate –Daniel Machin and Ian Mitchell as General Manager Minerals South and Team Leader Minerals Kalgoorlie respectively has completed the recruitment process associated with the restructure.

Both Dan and Ian bring a wealth of experience and are ready to embrace the challenges of their new roles at DMP.

Dan's general manager role encompasses the oversight of DMP's regulatory function in the mining sector.  While the key area of regulatory responsibility applies to the southern part of the State, another major function will be to champion the implementation of the environmental regulatory reform agenda as part of the directorate's management team.

Ian will supervise a team of environmental officers and coordinate assessments, audits/inspections, enforcement activities and performance monitoring of minerals and petroleum approvals for compliance with environmental regulations and the Environment Division's programs and policies. 

Before coming to DMP, Dan was the CEO of the Aquaculture Council of Western Australia, a peak aquaculture industry body, for six years, where he worked on building a clear development pathway for approval processes. Dan also owned and managed a business consultancy specialising in providing strategy and governance advice, government relations and executive officer services for the agri-food industry. 

Dan's previous work at the Aquaculture Council of Western Australia holds parallels to DMP's current RER program. He sees this as a very exciting time for DMP and is looking forward to implementing the reforms package in the Environment Division's day to day business.

Ian has also joined DMP from the private sector. Ian is qualified in Environmental Science and Information Technology and previously worked at Outback Ecology, an environmental consultancy specifically associated with the Australian resources and mining industry.

Ian performed numerous tasks during his six year stint at Outback Ecology, including preparing Mine Closure Plans, undertaking environmental site assessments and preparing approvals documents and annual environmental reports. Ian also managed the development of an electronic system to help mining companies manage their rehabilitation and closure obligations and commitments.

Dan Machin and Ian Mitchell

Dan Machin and Ian Mitchell

Ian is looking forward to using his mine closure knowledge and experience in a wide variety of environment projects. 

The experience within private enterprise and industry brought by both Dan and Ian has set the Environment Division in an enviable position as the new financial year commences.

For more information you can contact Dan on (08) 9222 3446 and Ian on (08) 9222 3441.



Business reform and administration directorate restructure

Finalised Structure for Administration and Reform  Directorate from 15 July 2013.

Finalised Structure for Administration and Reform Directorate from 15 July 2013.

The new structure for the Administration and Reform Directorate, which was announced on 23 April 2013 has been finalised. The restructure will provide plenty of support for environmental officers and the implementation of the RER and MRF programs. 

Kaye Mulligan will take on the new role of Manager Compliance and Audit. Kaye will be involved in coordinating business reform projects and activities, plan and implement effective and efficient controls and standards to ensure successful outcomes. Kaye will be responsible for the integration and implementation of new systems and work processes for a risk-based approach to industry environmental assessment. Kaye's experience and training is well suited to this role to ensure a robust and rigorous process is implemented for the betterment of our services. For information on Compliance and Audit you can contact Kaye on (08) 9222 3094.

Glen Stewart will fill the position of Manager Business Systems. Glen's role is to ensure Information Communication Technologies are employed to meet the strategic objectives of the Environment Division's business processes and initiatives including capturing Annual Environmental Reports online, establishment of the MRF to replace the bond model and creating an online Audits and Inspections module.  For more information you can contact Glen on (08) 9222 3704.

Sonja Foster will continue to act in the position of Coordinator Business Services. Sonja will supervise and coordinate a team to deliver business services across the Environment Division, while leading staff and implementing business and work plans, divisional policies and procedures. Sonja can be contacted on (08) 9222 3891.

Annual Environmental Reports lodgement

The online lodgement of Annual Environmental Reports (AERs) became compulsory on 1 July 2013, six months after the system first went live.

The online system for submitting AERs to DMP will improve data consistency, efficiency and transparency across the department's services.

The system also provides the public with easily accessible information on how resource companies are responding to their environmental responsibilities, as well as enable the information to be used in other submissions, such as future AERs, Programmes of Work and Mining Rehabilitation Fund assessments.  
There are over 421 industry users who have registered to have access to EARS2.

The Annual Environmental Reports are available from the EARS 2 information page on DMP's website.
Contact: Amy Jones (08) 9222 3043