Extractive Industry Priority List

By on October 8, 2020

DR ELIZABETH GIBSON, General Manager of CMPA discusses the Extractive Industry Priority List.

The following information was taken from www.earthresources.vic.gov.au

The initial Priority List (Hot List was published in the 2018 Joint Ministerial Statement – Extractive Resources.

Being on the Priority List helps ensure a quarry expansion project is monitored and prioritised by the lead agencies involved in the assessment and approval process so that it can be progressed as efficiently as possible.

Once a project is added to the Priority List, the lead agencies (Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, Earth Resources Regulation and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning) will proactively monitor progress of applications through the approval process.

If appropriate or there is unreasonable delay in a decision on a planning permit application, the Minister for Planning may ‘call in’ and decide the application.

In mid-2020 the Minister for Planning agreed that there is merit in calling in applications for Priority List quarries earlier in the application process to avoid potential delays, provide greater certainty to industry and also to support Councils process applications, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and emerging from it.

This means that rather than waiting for delays in the planning application process, as soon as a planning permit application for expansion of an eligible quarry is submitted to the relevant council the Minister for Planning has the option to ‘call in’ the application and decide the planning permit in place of the local council.

If an application meets the Priority List criteria, it will be added to the list when the work plan variation is formally lodged with the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (Earth Resources Regulation branch).

Companies can initially discuss their applications with the Department in advance of the formal lodgment of their application, noting that, in particular, the pre-application site meeting provides an important early opportunity for engagement on the application with key stakeholders and
agencies that may be involved in the application process.

The Department of Jobs Precincts and Regions (Earth Resources Regulation branch) will contact the applicant to seek permission to add the quarry to the list published on the Department’s website.

No confidential information will be published without the consent of the quarry owner.

Where estimated resource quantities are published, these will be combined totals so as not to identify any individual quarry resource estimates.

Existing quarries located in areas close to the highest demand for building raw materials may be included on the Priority List if they seek to expand production and need a planning permit. Generally, these include quarries located in local government areas in the ‘designated extractive supply area’ (see map below) close to greater Melbourne and including the regional urban growth centres of Latrobe, Greater Geelong, Ballarat, and Greater Bendigo.

Table 1 – Designated extractive supply local government areas

If a quarry expansion application requiring a planning permit is not located in the designated supply area (see map) an applicant can request that their project be considered for inclusion in the list on a case-by-case basis.

To be included on the list the application would need to demonstrate its strategic importance in building capacity to supply materials to meet market demand in the short term, including the quarry having significant production capacity.

Not all quarry expansions located within the designated extractive supply area are eligible to be Priority Listed. There are other approvals pathways designed for simple, lower risk projects, including the code of practice and the administrative change by notification pathway, where the application does typically not require a planning permit or the activity is covered by the existing planning approval. Further information about applications for lower risk projects are available in the Work Plan Guideline for Extractive Industry Projects.

The purpose of the Priority List is to ensure that approval processes are coordinated to avoid unnecessary delays. It does not exempt any quarries from planning or other approvals.

Inclusion in the Priority List does not guarantee approval. Quarries on the Priority List are still subject to rigorous assessment requirements and must comply with relevant legislation.

A Priority Listed quarry requires the same approvals as a standard quarry application:

  • Assessment by Earth Resources Regulation against the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990 and Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development (Extractive Industries) Regulations 2019.
  • Planning permit consideration by the relevant local council (or in the case of called-in applications, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning).
  • Other relevant environmental, cultural heritage and government approvals.

A wide range of other legislation, policies and agencies can also be involved at different stages in a quarry approval or expansion process. This ensures all requirements and safeguards have been addressed through the process.

The Minister for Planning may call in a suitable new quarry application where it is not subject to an Environmental Effects Statement, provided certain criteria are met. Calling in new quarries would be considered by DELWP and ultimately the Minister for Planning on a case by case basis.

Figure 1 – A diagram showing the various Victorian Legislation impacting upon the quarry industry.

Under the Planning and Environment Act 1987, the Minister for Planning may call in a planning permit application from a council at any time before the council decides the application.

Calling in the application does not automatically mean a permit will be granted. The application must still be assessed on its merits and the normal public notice requirements continue to apply.

Under the call-in process the Minister for Planning must refer any objection or submission received in relation to the application to an independent planning panel for consideration. The panel must give any person who made an objection or submission, and the applicant, a reasonable opportunity to be heard and report its findings and recommendations to the Minister. The Minister may then decide the application. The Minister’s
decision is final and applicant or an objector is not able to apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal for a review of the Minister’s decision.

SITE PHOTO: Fulton Hogan – Tynong North Quarry.

Community input is an important part of the assessment process. Quarries on the Priority List are still required to obtain the necessary permits and approvals.

Public notice requirements apply to planning permit applications, even if the application is called in by the Minister for Planning.

Quarry operators have a duty to consult with their communities through the lifetime of the quarry as required by the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990 (MRSDA).

Further information about the approvals process and the duty to consult under the MRSDA is available in the Community Engagement Guidelines for Mining and Mineral Exploration.

The Extractives Strategy Taskforce guides the implementation of the Victorian Government’s Extractive Resources Strategy. It includes representatives from across government and industry. The Taskforce monitors progress of Priority Listed projects and recommend steps to resolve issues as required.

Projects can remain on the Priority List for a range of reasons outside of the work plan approval and planning permit application processes, including other government approvals or commercial decisions made by the company to delay an application.

Priority Listed projects that are delayed for reasons not related to the planning permit application process will be monitored by the Extractives Strategy Taskforce in consultation with relevant agencies and the proponents.

The Taskforce may recommend steps to resolve issues when required.

The focus for the Priority List is on streamlining approvals of expansions for existing operating quarries, which are ready to expand production to meet demand immediately/in the short-term.

Approved Priority List quarry expansions

Table 2. Seven projects have been approved since 2018.
Table 3. Current Priority List

*This list is current as of July 2020. The Priority List will be updated periodically on the Earth Resources website.

The Secretariat would much appreciate any comments on the Priority List (enquiries@cmpavic.asn.au).

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