DSDBI Information Day

By on April 16, 2014

Mineral and Extractive Industries Stakeholder Information Days, Department of State Development Business and Innovation (DSDBI)

DR ELIZABETH GIBSON, General Manager of CMPA reports on the Mineral and Extractive Industries Stakeholder Information Day.

THE information day was held on 20 October, 2014 at Melbourne Mercure, Spring Street, Melbourne. The agenda had been changed to have all the presentations in the morning with break-out sessions in the afternoon. This was an issue for some CMPA members who attended in the afternoon only
because of the original agenda, however, they were able to catch up with the relevant presenters.

Introduction

Kylie White, Director of Earth Resources Regulation welcomed everyone to the Information day. When questioned about her statement on a change in community sentiment, further clarity was sought from a member of the audience. She stated the increase in community interest was due to coal seam gas and the Hazelwood mine fire. Presentations that were relevant to the Extractive Industry are detailed below.

Changes to the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990 (MRSDA)

Linda Bibby, Earth Resources Development informed the audience of changes to the MRSDA. The major changes are the introduction of:

  • Statutory timeframes for Work plans – DSDBI will have 28 days in which to endorse, refuse to endorse or forward to the required referral authority or request the applicant for a revision from 1 November 2014.
  • Right of appeal – VCAT review will be available from 1 November, 2014 to:

For a decision of the Department Head:

  • Refuse to approve a work plan or a variation of an approved work plan;
  • Approve a work plan variation or the variation of a work plan with conditions;
  • Refuse to statutory endorse a work plan or variation to an approved work plan;
  • Statutorily endorse a work plan or variation to an approved work plan with conditions.

A decision of the Minister to:

Impose a condition on an extractive industry work plan;

  • Vary a condition of the extractive industry work authority or impose a new condition;
  • Impose a new condition on the extractive industry work authority that the Minister has considered to be transferred to another person; and
  • Cancel a work authority.
  • Enforceable undertakings – A Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) (Extractive Industries) Amendment Regulations 2014 introduces enforceable undertaking into the MRSDA from 1 September, 2015. This will provide increased flexibility in regulatory response to breaches which otherwise would be subject to prosecution and are not appropriate for section 110 notice. In certain circumstances a party may voluntarily and publicly undertake a course of remedial action and the regulator does not pursue prosecution. There are penalties which are applicable for failure to comply with an enforceable undertaking.
  • New and increased fees – Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) (Extractive Industries) Amendment Regulations 2014 will commence operation on 1 November, 2014.

This is a concern with the introduction of cost recovery
by the Government and will include:

  • An increase in fees for work authority applications;
  • An increase in fees relating to work plans and variations; and
  • The introduction of an annual fee for work authorities.

The current fees will be maintained until 31 December, 2014 after which the changes will be phased in from 2015-17. The CMPA made a substantial submission recommending a number of changes to the proposed fees, however, it was largely ignored apart from the removal of cost recovery for the development of RRAM (software database system).

Native Vegetation

A representative from Department of the Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) presented on the Permitted clearing of native vegetation – Biodiversity assessment guidelines. The system is risk based with the low risk based pathway not requiring a habitat hectare assessment. Moderate and high risk based pathways require a qualified native vegetation assessor to conduct a habitat hectare assessment. Native vegetation elicited the majority of questions such as “Why is agriculture, with its far greater foot print, not included in thesame stringent requirements (native grasses)?” and “Why is the DEPI tool showing biodiversity that is clearly not present on the site?”

Risk based work plans

A presentation was given by John Mitas, General Manager, Earth Resources, Regulation on the proposed risk based work plan (as discussed in Sand & Stone) which is being introduced due to the Government Response to the Economic Development and Infrastructure Committee Inquiry into Greenfields Mineral Exploration and Project Development in Victoria. It is expected to be introduced via legislative change on 31 December, 2015 when a work plan will be required for endorsement and approval which reflects the risk based approach. ERR will offer training and other assistance to help industry adapt to the new requirements. Once the risk based work plan form is available electronically, ERR will offer initial assistance to ensure the risk based work plans are compliant. There is no intention by DSDBI to convert all work plans across to the new risk based system. However if a variation to an existing Work Plan is required it will trigger a change to the risk based Work Plan form.

Rehabilitation bond reform

Sian Harris, Earth Resources Development outlined the reforms to the bond system as per the Government response to EDIC. They are:

  • The development of a cash bond system (for bonds up to $20,000);
  • A start-up bond scheme for new operations (enabling bonds to be submitted by instalment); and
  • The implementation of a late bond lodgement fee from 1 November, 2014.

The proposed discount bond model as discussed previously in Sand & Stone has been approved by the Minister.

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