This Senate inquiry looked into what responsibilities the federal government could have in guaranteeing effective mine rehabilitation.
Environment Victoria welcomes the review. We hope it can help improve Australia’s poor track record in ensuring effective mine rehabilitation and establish more comprehensive policies to ensure mining companies fulfill their responsibilities and that the environmental and social effects of mining and mine rehabilitation are taken seriously.
In our submission we identify the Commonwealth’s ability to require better reporting on mine rehabilitation liabilities under the Corporations Act 2001. This can improve transparency on financial provisions for mine rehabilitation and provide the opportunity to adjust them if necessary, to avoid tax payers paying for corporate shortcomings in the long run.
We also put in a submission for the review of the Environmental and Biodiversity Act 1999 to ensure that rehabilitation plans for mines are always considered under the Act, and for the Act to establish acceptable environmental standards. This should include establishing clear criteria of successful rehabilitation to hold operators to account on their progressive and final rehabilitation efforts.
We suggested for the federal government to work closely with other states and territories to follow Victoria’s recent comprehensive reforms on mine rehabilitation, in the wake of the Hazelwood mine fire.