Mineral and Energy Resources and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2020
The Mineral and Energy Resources and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2020 was passed by the Queensland Parliament on 20 May 2020.
The Act paves the way for changes to mining and resources legislation that:
- strengthen safety laws in the resources sector
- improve financial assurance and support the whole-of-government mine rehabilitation reforms
- improve the administration and efficiency of the regulatory framework applying to resource projects.
Some of the amendments, such as the industrial manslaughter and other resources safety amendments, have already come into effect. You can find out more on the Resources Health and Safety Queensland website.
Other amendments, detailed below, commenced on 7 September 2020. You can find a complete list of legislation being amended by the Act on the Queensland Legislation website.
Financial assurance and mine rehabilitation
These amendments are part of the whole-of-government reforms to financial assurance and mine rehabilitation. They address some of the recommendations made in the Queensland Treasury Corporation’s Review of Queensland’s financial assurance framework (PDF, 1.5MB) released in April 2017, as well as feedback received from consultation.
Please click on the headings for details.
Changes in control of resource authority
These amendments increase scrutiny around the financial capability of the transferee when there is a change in control of a resource authority. The changes are designed to mitigate the risks associated with both direct and indirect changes of control.
Before an assessable transfer can be registered, the Minister is now able to consider whether the proposed transferee has the ability to fund the estimated rehabilitation cost for the resource authority.
Indirect changes of control
A new process applies if the Minister becomes aware that there has been a change in control of the entity holding the resource authority.
In these cases, the Minister may assess whether the new entity has the financial and technical resources to comply with the resource authority. The Minister may impose or vary conditions on the resource authority if a significant risk is identified.
Development plans for significant mineral mining lease holders
Currently, development plans allow oversight over the nature and extent of activities planned under coal and oil shale mining leases and petroleum leases.
The amendments extend the requirement for development plans to mining leases for certain prescribed minerals above a stated threshold.
This requirement is designed to improve oversight of these mineral mines and provide better information about sites that are in care and maintenance mode or those about to cease production.
Abandoned mines and operating plant
These amendments broaden the government’s powers for remediating abandoned mines and abandoned operating plant sites to:
- make them safe, durable and secure
- enable productive land uses, where possible.
The amendments clarify and expand the powers of authorised persons undertaking the remediation activities outlined in the Abandoned Mines Management Policy (PDF, 121.0KB).
The amendments also allow authorised persons to access any affected land outside of the original tenure boundary to carry out required remediation activities, as long as the owner/s and occupier/s of the affected land have given consent.
Disqualification criteria for applicants, tenderers and transferees
The Act introduced disqualification criteria against which applicants, tenderers and proposed transferees will be assessed before a resource authority is granted or transferred. This only applies to new applications, tenders or transfers lodged after 7 September 2020. The assessment of disqualification criteria allows the Queensland Government to:
- better assess the capacity of potential authority holders to adequately manage the resource authority and comply with their obligations
- mitigate the risk of a site being disclaimed or left with debts.
The disqualification criteria are in addition to the assessment of the applicant’s financial and technical resources and any other application requirements that apply.
The disqualification criteria include:
- history of non-compliance with relevant prescribed legislation
- relevant prescribed criminal history
- history of mismanagement of a company
- association with a person who would fail any of the 3 previous criteria.
Being an ‘associate’ has a prescribed definition that must be met. A process to ensure procedural fairness will apply before an applicant is disqualified. If the applicant is disqualified, the application will be terminated with no further assessment required.
Mining lease tenders
The amendments allow the Queensland Government to tender areas for mining leases, which were previously only offered through direct applications.
This change works in conjunction with the abandoned mines reforms to allow the targeted release of sites that have been abandoned. It also provides opportunities to commercialise potentially economic mineral resources.
Existing requirements for mining lease applications, including requirements for native title, landholder notices and environmental authorities, apply to mining lease tenders.
Regulatory efficiency of resource assessment processes
The Act includes amendments to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of resource assessment processes.
Disputes between overlapping tenures
In cases where a mining lease applicant cannot secure the agreement of the pre-existing tenure holder/s, the Minister will be able to grant an overlapping tenure if it is in the public interest.
The companies involved will then be required to negotiate a co-existence plan. If the companies can’t agree, the dispute may be resolved by arbitration.
A similar process is introduced to resolve commercial disputes where an existing lease holder refuses to agree to the activities of an overlapping petroleum pipeline licence holder or petroleum facility licence holder.
The companies involved will be required to negotiate a co-existence plan. If the companies can’t agree, the dispute may be resolved by arbitration.
Notifiable dealings for non-assessable transfers
Non-assessable transfers are transfers that happen automatically by operation of the law, for example, because of a death or bankruptcy.
The changes will allow non-assessable transfers to be registered without obtaining the Minister’s approval. However, transfers can only be registered if all royalties or contributions to the Financial Provisioning Scheme have been paid.
Refusal to grant mining claim or mining lease if compensation not determined
The changes amend existing provisions in the Mineral Resources Act 1989 to provide a time period after which the Minister may refuse the grant of a mining claim or mining lease when compensation with landholders hasn’t been agreed.
If 3 months elapse from the withdrawal of the last objection to the application, and compensation has not been settled, the Minister may refuse the application.
The 3-month period is consistent with the other timeframes established through the Mineral, Water, and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2018.
- Consolidate conference provisions throughout the resource Acts in the Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Act 2014
- Allow Petroleum Act 1923 tenures to be amalgamated at the time they transition into the Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004
- Allow petroleum leases to be counted for relinquishment requirements
- Remove the requirement for a coordination arrangement if both parties are the same entity
- Require security to be paid prior to the grant of a mining lease
- Create an explicit head of power for the Minister to decide ‘excluded land’ for exploration permits and mineral development licences under the Mineral Resources Act 1989
- Allow certain documents to be served electronically rather than in hard copy
- Clarify when a royalty return is not required to be provided with an application to transfer or surrender a mining claim or mining lease
Minor and operational amendments
- Clarify responsibilities for sale of asset powers for terminated mining leases and mineral development licences
- Establish the ability for the Minister to request further information to inform a decision on a proposed later development on a petroleum lease
- Make prosecution periods consistent across the resource Acts
Last updated 7 September 2020