Victorian regulator simplifies process for low-risk approvals

Fosterville mine in Victoria. Image: Kirkland Lake Gold

Government-backed Earth Resources Regulation has streamlined processes to speed up approvals for operational changes at Victorian quarries and mine sites.

This is expected to increase the processing of sand, stone and minerals, which face a high demand in the rise of public infrastructure and affordable housing.

Operators now have the option to notify Earth Resources Regulation of basic operational changes without submitting a formal work plan for low-risk activities.

Up to 50 per cent of all operational plan approvals will now be fast-tracked through this process.

Earth Resources Regulation executive director Anthony Hurst said, “We’re working with both the extractive and minerals industries to support them in their work, which enables more building in the state and creates more jobs.”

An increasing number of approvals and decisions are now being released, including that for Victoria’s largest gold mine, Kirkland Lake Gold’s Fosterville. The gold miner will now benefit from a simplified process to adjust their operations and grow its production. Kirkland Lake expects to yield twice as much gold in 2016.

Two quarry approvals for Hanson’s sites near Kilmore will also free up over 20 million cubic metres of additional bluestone rock. The Kilmore sites were one of the Victorian government’s targets for fast tracking earlier this year.

Boral’s Bacchus Marsh quarry has received approvals to construct a new road that aids production from two work authority sites.

“Earth Resources Regulation is focused on ensuring all the necessary safeguards and protections are in place to manage these sites in line with community expectations. Our emphasis is on managing risk effectively and working with operators to ensure suitable processes are in place,” Hurst said.

“We’ve had great feedback from quarry and mine operators, but we are always keen to continue conversations about further improving approvals and management processes.”

The regulator has received 16 requests so far via the fast-tracked process.

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