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Moving forward

What’s next for South Australia’s mining laws.

The South Australian government has welcomed the recent passage of the Mining Bill through Parliament. It will increase landowner rights, improve our state’s competitiveness across both the mining and agricultural sectors and promote further investment in our regions.

While the Bill has been passed and the Statutes Amendment (Mineral Resources) Act agreed to, the amendments will not commence until the accompanying Regulations have been drafted. This is expected to take approximately 12 months.

The amendments are a comprehensive rewrite of the Mining Act 1971; the most significant since its introduction. Most notable are the improvements to landowner rights, the expansion of environmental compliance tools and introduction of investment attraction mechanisms.

The amendments also make minor administrative changes to the Opal Mining Act 1995 with the exception of the changes to the Opal Mining Register. These mirror the changes being made to the Mining Register under the Mining Act. The improved registers include a modernised framework for registering caveats, mortgages and other dealings that meet the demands of the mining industry and investors.

While the amendments do not repeal the 100 year old Mines and Works Inspection Act 1920, they do limit its function to operations where the Mining Act does not apply, such as the Olympic Dam area, part of the Whyalla Steelworks area and the Leigh Creek Mine. The Mines and Works Inspection Act also certifies mine managers who are responsible for human safety on a mine site. Since the introduction of the Work Health and Safety Act 2012, safety is now regulated by SafeWork SA, therefore, the responsibility for certifying mine managers will be transferred to SafeWork SA through an improved and modernised approach for determining the competency of a mine manager.

Further details about the amendments and the extent of the benefits to landowners, industry and the environment are available from the Department for Energy and Mining website.

The department will continue to release updates on the progress of the Regulations throughout the 2020 calendar year.

Background

In 2016 the Department for Energy and Mining commenced a review of the Mining Act 1971, the Opal Mining Act 1995 and the Mines and Works Inspection Act 1920. Following the publication of three discussion papers and extensive consultation spanning over 18 months, the Statutes Amendment (Leading Practice in Mining) Bill 2017 was introduced into Parliament. The 2018 state election interrupted discussion of the 2017 Bill, and the incoming government introduced the Statutes Amendment (Mineral Resources) Bill 2018 later that year. The changes between the 2017 Bill and the 2018 Bill were minor, but necessary, as these addressed native title issues and administrative errors identified in the 2017 Bill and improved transition of the reforms relating to ‘private mines’.

Following lengthy consideration by Parliament, the 2018 Bill passed the Houses of Parliament and the Statute Amendment (Mineral Resources) Act 2019 was assented to on 24 October 2019.

– Kirsty Braybon, December 2019

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