DRAFT Geotechnical Guideline

By on December 3, 2019

DR ELIZABETH GIBSON, General Manager of the CMPA and Members comments on the Draft Geotechnical Guideline (Guideline) for Terminal and Rehabilitated Slopes Extractive Industry.

Earth Resources Regulation (DJPR) has been in consultation with CMPA and the extractive industry in general in the development of the draft Guideline. The following is the submission made by CMPA.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the draft Geotechnical Guideline for terminal and rehabilitated slopes Extractive Industry (Guideline). CMPA would much appreciate the following concerns with the Guideline be addressed.

  • Worksafe – ERR overlap must be resolved.
  • Very few of the workplans that are prepared would fit the “simple” category so most will have to pay for Geotechnical advice based on little or no reliable data prior to getting their work plans endorsed or approved. As an upfront requirement in an application this is a complete waste of time in the approval process whether for small, intermediate or complex operations and is a complete misuse of the applicant’s money.
  • The need or otherwise for a Geotechnical assessment should be a condition on any approval as a result of a geotechnical audit by ERR carried out when the quarry has opened up and there are reliable and relevant geological exposures. The timing of the requirement for a Competent Person’s Letter/Geotechnical assessment for the Work Plan (i.e. in the planning and design phase) should be reconsidered.
  • ERR technical services needs to implement a formal recording system for geotechnical events and any subsequent investigations and assessments. It is pointless having a risk based approval system when there is no accessible history of events on which to base this approach.
  • The intrinsic idea and format simply increase the regulatory complexity (red tape) and will again lengthen or prolong the approval process.
  • With the definition of simple, intermediate or complex slopes, it is difficult to see that many operations will fit into “simple”.
  • Geotechnical engineering advice has become expensive due to the litigation risks (Professional Indemnity Insurance) and hence reduced the choice of specialists available. Consulting groups would be extremely reluctant to sign off on the templated letter.
  • The whole document tends to “codify” the issue – it is readily apparent ERR is adopting “competent person” from an AusIMM JORC code perspective. This potentially raises complexity of issues of “relevant experience” for each type of deposit. ERR itself would appear to lack resources in these areas.
  • The Guideline may not be entirely consistent with ERR’s “Code of Practice for Small Quarries” and much of the technical material tends to be over prescriptive and corral specialists to how to do the job (refer acceptance criteria) – which for the extractive industry reduces flexibility.
  • Unfortunately, while the current GRZ guidance is not well considered, this proposed Guideline is not necessarily the solution. Bizarrely, the document could be construed as an attempt to remove the onus of assessment, ratification and approval away from ERR.
  • The Guideline imposes more regulation by policy than requirements under the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act (MRSDA).

In summary, the Guideline is not a practical document that will assist the potential/current Work Authority holder in managing geotechnical risk in quarries and is only for “reassurance to ERR”. It persists in only considering some aspects of geotechnical risk (WorkSafe versus ERR) leading to confusion for the Quarry Manager and an increase in red tape. Additionally, no impact assessment has been made on the increased costs to the work authority/potential work authority holder which in CMPA’s view would be substantial and would lead to increases in the cost of construction materials.

The Guideline, if implemented in its current form, could lead to the potential loss of small to medium quarries (who account for half the annual production of construction materials in Victoria) in the market. More importantly, there is no evidence of systemic failure in the extractive industry.

As such CMPA does not support the Guideline in its current form.

Sponsored Ads