The Queensland Government has passed a reform bill that means mining companies operating in the state will now financially contribute to rehabilitation costs for abandoned mines.
The Mineral and Energy Resources (Financial Provisioning) Act 2018 is designed to remove liability for Queensland taxpayers in cases where a mining company cannot fulfil its financial and environmental requirements at an operation and is forced to close.
Under the new rules, mining companies will submit contributions into a scheme fund to help manage the risk to the state of having to pay costs for mining companies that are unable to comply with their obligations.
Queensland Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad said the reforms “struck the right balance” between a strong resource sector and world-class environmental standards related to rehabilitation.
“The new laws will compel mining companies to progressively rehabilitate mined land so we don’t leave a legacy of abandoned mines for future generations,” said Trad.
“They will also ensure mining companies, not Queensland taxpayers, foot the bill for the rehabilitation of failed mines or stranded assets.”
The legislation does not apply to mines that have already been abandoned and operating mines will not have the new conditions applied retrospectively.
The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) welcomed the news, with chief executive Ian Macfarlane saying the funds would help give “peace of mind to taxpayers”.
“The new scheme means taxpayers won’t have to foot the bill in the unlikely scenario where a company fails to meet its rehabilitation commitments,” he said.
“Resources companies will all contribute to the fund, and over time it will increase the amount available for rehabilitation commitments by about $2 billion.”
Macfarlane also applauded the government’s decision to not apply the rules retrospectively, stating that such a move would have “devastating consequences for existing jobs and future investment”.