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 initiated 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 to address high priority environmental and safety risks associated with abandoned mine features.
The Abandoned Mines Program was formally established following the release of the WA Government’s Abandoned Mines Policy in January 2016, which details a framework for the prioritisation and subsequent rehabilitation and/or management of abandoned mine sites. The policy requires that sites are prioritised with consideration to significant risks to the community and the environment, and that the potential value associated with a site is identified and protected.
Stakeholder engagement is a key aspect of the program and stakeholder input is sought for each project to ensure concerns and expectations are identified and addressed.
The Mining Rehabilitation Advisory Panel (MRAP) provides expert and independent advice on project development and expenditure.
Abandoned mine projects
Four pilot projects were initiated at commencement of the Abandoned Mines Program to test the program’s approach and inform continuous improvement activities across all processes. Two of these projects, Black Diamond and Pro-Force, are now complete. Site investigations and stakeholder consultation for the Bulong and Elverdton pilot projects are ongoing.
An unplanned project to address immediate concerns at the Ellendale Diamond Mine in the Kimberley was initiated in late 2015.
In 2019, as an outcome the program’s risk assessment and prioritisation process, a shaft remediation program was initiated beginning with a site in Donnybrook.
Risk assessment and prioritisation
Future projects under the Abandoned Mines Program are to be prioritised following a risk assessment and prioritisation process that has been developed in line with the Abandoned Mines Policy. The process draws predominantly on survey data collected by Geological Survey of Western Australia and incorporates community and stakeholder nominated sites for consideration.
This process aims to systematically identify and characterise hazardous sites, assess the associated safety and/or environmental risks and prioritise works with consideration to potential risk mitigation measures and beneficial end land use. The Abandoned Mines Program is currently seeking community input to identify potential high risk abandoned mine features to support this process.
If you would like further information on the risk assessment and prioritisation process, a paper presented by the department at Mine Closure 2019 is available for download from the conference website.
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. The location of known abandoned mine features can also be accessed via GeoVIEW by selecting the ‘Abandoned Mine Inventory’ map layer.
Access historic mine plans
Access to historical mine plans can be requested through DMIRS’ Safety Regulation Group for a complete history of mine activity that has occurred on a tenement.
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’ Safety Regulation Group.