Mining Licence and Regulations
How is mining regulated in Victoria?
Mining activities in Victoria are regulated by Earth Resources Regulation (ERR).
ERR are responsible for enforcing, monitoring and managing compliance of mining activities under the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990 (MRSDA).
Under the MRSDA, the licence holder needs to meet specific conditions and provide an approved work plan.
The licence holder also has the duty to minimise environmental, health and safety impacts on the environment and the community.
If a mining operator breaches their licence conditions, ERR may serve a Remedial Notice
Who are our co-regulators?
Various other departments and agencies within the Victorian government have a level of regulatory responsibility for mining.
Environment Protection Authority (EPA) role is to regulate pollution and it has independent authority to make regulatory decisions under the Environment Protection Act 1970.
The EPA may require action if a site is causing off-site pollution.
WorkSafe Victoria is responsible for enforcing Victoria's occupational health and safety laws and helping organisations avoid workplace injuries.
Local Government in Victoria is responsible for implementing the Victorian Planning Provisions in their local government area
Department of Health and Human Services
Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) was established to develop and deliver policies, programs and services that support and enhance the wellbeing of all Victorians.
DHHS takes a broad view of the causes of ill health, the drivers of good health, and the social and economic context in which people live.
Earth Resources Regulation (ERR) shares responsibilities with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to provide the community with information and health standards and possible adverse health effects.
Who is responsible for conducting sampling and monitoring of mine sites?
The licence holder is responsible for conducting sampling and monitoring to assess if they comply with the mining licence conditions and work plan.
On rare occasions, we may conduct confirmation sampling to verify the findings of the licence holder.
How do we know if the licence holder is providing accurate sampling information?
A licence holder must provide the department with monitoring and reporting data that demonstrates compliance with the requirements of a mining licence.
The information is required to meet strict compliance reporting standards as outlined by both Victorian and Australian standards and guidelines.
As the regulator, ERR reviews information relating to compliance reporting to ensure that it meets the requirements set out in the mining licence and the work has been completed in line with appropriate standards and guidelines.
Sometimes ERR can ask an independent consultant to conduct a peer review or audit to verify findings and qualify any data concerns.
What level of technical expertise does ERR have?
ERR has employees with broad technical expertise about the environment and across the resource industry in Victoria.
In addition, the ERR Technical Review Board (TRB) is a team of experts with international mining experience. The TRB provides strategic advice to the ERR in the areas of mine and quarry stability, rehabilitation and other strategic risks.
As required, EER will appoint independent specialists and subject matter experts to assist us when we need additional advice.
Who is responsible for investigating breaches of compliance?
If an incident or compliance breach is reported to us about a mining activity, our inspectors will investigate.
The type of investigation we conduct and the conditions we enforce depends on the complexity and scale of the incident reported.
What enforcement powers do ERR have?
We have legal powers to regulate mining operations under the MRSDA in Victoria.
These powers include:
- placing conditions on operations through licences
- inspecting, auditing and investigating mining operations
- issuing directions, and notices
- taking enforcement action which can be fines or prosecution.
ERR may issue a Notice to a licence holder who fails to comply with their licence conditions or provisions under the MRSDA.
ERR can prosecute or financially penalise a licence holder who fails to comply with the actions outlined in a remedial notice.
What is a risk-based work plan?
A licence holder who proposes to commence work must submit a risk-based work plan and get approval from ERR to operate.
The plan identifies potential land, infrastructure, property, community and environmental risks associated with site operations and ways to eliminate or reduce and manage those risks.
Licence holders operating mines and quarries in Victoria have to get approval for a risk-based work plan before they start work, or make changes to their existing work plan under an existing approved licence.
We are currently developing guidelines to help licence holders produce effective risk-based work plans.
Learn more about the way government manages risk assessment in the resource industry.
Is there a minimum distance a mine site can operate from a residence?
There are recommended distances that should exist between industrial land uses (such as mines and quarries) and other more sensitive land uses such as residential areas where people live.
The EPA's Recommended Separation Distances for Industrial Residual Air Emissions – Guideline provides best practice advice to minimise the off-site impacts on sensitive land use.
What standards and guidelines apply to mining operators in Victoria?
There are a number of Australian Standards, environmental policies and guidelines that apply to mining in Victoria, including:
- National Environment Protection (Potentially contaminated Land) Measure 1999
- Protocol for Environmental Management (PEM) Mining and Extractive Industries. EPA Publication 1191, December 2007
- State Environment Protection Policy (Prevention and Management of Contamination of Land) No. S95, Gazette 4 June 2002
- State Environment Protection Policy (SEPP) (Air Quality Management) No. S240, Gazette 21/12/2001
- SEPP (Ambient Air Quality) No. S19, Gazette 9/02/1999
- SEPP (Waters of Victoria), No. S160, Gazette 17/12/1997
- SEPP (Groundwaters of Victoria), No. S160, Gazette 01/12/1997
- Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council's Technical Basis for Guidelines to Minimise Annoyance Due to Blasting Overpressure and Ground Vibration, September 1990