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QLD passes new mining laws

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Queensland has passed its new controversial Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Bill.

According to the bill “Queensland’s current legislative framework for the resources sector ….. is some of the most complex and lengthy resources legislation in Australia”.

“The duplicate processes and variances in the regulatory frameworks which fundamentally achieve the same administrative outcome result in unnecessary regulatory costs to the resources sector, landholders and government.

“This Bill implements the first stage of the MQRA Program by creating a common provisions Act [for] harmonised legislation.”

The aim of the new legislation is to modernise QLD’s resources legislation, implement a consistent restricted land framework, repeal the Coal and Oil Shale Mine Workers’ Superannuation Act 1989, reduce regulatory burden and enable greater use of CSG produced in coal mining.

However there was controversy over the bill’s ability to restrict who could oppose mining applications on what was termed ‘philosophical’ grounds.

Previously any person or group could object to applications, whether they were directly affected by the operation or not, forcing the matter into the Land Court.

The bill has previously been slammed by anti-coal seam gas development group Lock the Gate Alliance, who described the announcement of the new Bill as ‘despicable’.

“Once again the LNP government is trying to curb the democratic rights of Queenslanders," Lock the Gate Alliance’s president Drew Hutton said.

“The Bill will take away people’s rights to object to mining projects in 90 per cent of cases,” he said.

“Even if the proposed mine is next door and you’re going to be adversely effected by noise, dust and health impacts, the new law will mean you can’t object.

“If your water downstream from the mine is likely to be contaminated, you will have no right to object because the mine is not on your property.”

Despite objections the bill was passed last night.

It support was welcomed by the Queensland Resources Council, with QRC chief executive Michael Roche stating this “important legislation again demonstrates that the Minister for Natural Resources and Mines, Andrew Cripps remains focused on enabling regional growth and development by streamlining unnecessary regulation”.

“This Bill streamlines the objections process for the grant of a mining tenure but does not limit or remove a right to object to the mining project, rather, objections are considered as part of the project’s environmental authority,” Roche said.

“Communities and landholders remain important stakeholders and still retain a genuine opportunity to raise concerns over a mining project’s environmental impacts.”

What does the bill reform?

  • The 2012 findings of the Land Access Implementation Committee—on which peak agricultural groups worked closely with peak resource industry bodies under an independent Chair
  • a new process for ensuring that the maximum resource extraction occurs when coal and coal seam gas tenures overlap
  • providing new powers to ensure legacy boreholes can be swiftly made safe; and
  • a simple and consistent system of restricted land for all resource tenures

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