Compliance and enforcement

Earth Resources Regulation staff on site

We regulate nearly 1,600 sites including almost 900 quarries; over 300 mines and prospecting licences; and over 50 petroleum licences.

We promote and enforce compliance with the state’s mineral and energy resources legislation at these sites.

Our compliance and enforcement policy sets out how we ensure compliance with the Acts:

  • extension activities, including communication of information, promotion and capacity building
  • monitoring and auditing of practices and processes
  • enforcement activities designed to compel compliance.
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The Compliance strategy for Earth Resources Regulation is currently being updated for 2020-2022, including to incorporate actions in response to the Victorian Auditor General’s Rehabilitating Mines Audit Report released on 5 August 2020.

The updated strategy will outline the way that Earth Resources Regulation as a modern regulator undertakes compliance activities, the way we prioritise our work using a risk based approach, and the use of a graded compliance approach spanning from education to enforcement and prosecution, where the outcome is appropriate to the level of risk posed.

Earth Resources Regulation will maintain a priority focus on preventing and responding to the key risks posed by minerals, extractives and petroleum sites to protect public safety, land, infrastructure and the environment, including (but not limited to):

  • Stability - mines and quarries batters, integrity of tailings storage facilities and land erosion
  • Fire – coal mines, plant and equipment fires
  • Rehabilitation – progressive and final rehabilitation of mines, quarries, petroleum and exploration sites
  • Water – unauthorised discharges, contamination, leakage of tailings/slimes dams, erosion
  • Illegal activities – operating without or outside of approvals
  • Community impacts – including dust, noise and vibrations and security of sites

Earth Resources Regulation will be undertaking compliance campaign operations across the state, as well as targeted inspections and audits focussing on addressing these key risks.

Once completed the 2020-2022 compliance strategy will be available here. The strategy will be delivered under an annual plan that will be used to guide internal operational tasking and coordination of the regulator’s compliance activities.

The 2018-2020 compliance strategy can be accessed via the below link:

Interim Compliance Strategy – Site Rehabilitation

Earth Resources Regulation is overhauling the way it regulates site rehabilitation to ensure that authority holders fulfil their statutory obligations, as described in the Regulatory Practice Strategy for Rehabilitating Earth Resources Sites (PDF - 2.1 MB) .

Education Campaign

For most sites, the regulator will focus on providing information with authority holders via correspondence, newsletters and direct discussion, including:

  • Communicating the new regulation requirements for the preparation of rehabilitation plans for minerals and extractive sites
  • Communicating the new guidelines for preparing rehabilitation plans for minerals and extractive sites sites
  • Sharing examples of effective site rehabilitation, including seeking the assistance of industry associations to disseminate materials
  • Encouraging authority holders to make their rehabilitation plans (or summaries) publicly available
  • Encouraging relevant authority holders to discuss their rehabilitation plans with their Community Reference Group or Environmental Review Committees
  • Discussing rehabilitation requirements with the operators of specific mine, quarry and petroleum operations during routine site inspections.
  • Earth Resources Regulation will also seek to communicate examples of effective site rehabilitation and its enforcement actions via media releases and its website.

    Enforcement Campaign

    Earth Resources Regulation will identify a priority list of sites, using its  Rehabilitation Risk Profile guidelines to conduct a targeted program of site inspections focussing on operators’ fulfilment of their rehabilitation requirements.

    The regulator will use its regulatory powers to issues notices for non compliance and issue notices to direct remedial actions, on a case by case basis.  Significant issues may result in prosecutions.

    The regulator will publish its enforcement action, including naming authority holders, subject to considering each specific circumstance, in line with good regulatory practice.

    The interim compliance strategy for site rehabilitation will be delivered under a specific campaign plan, which will be used to guide internal operational tasking and coordination of the regulator’s compliance activities.

For each industry sector, we will focus on:

  • coal: fire, dust, batter stability, rehabilitation
  • gold and other metals - dust, stability, rehabilitation, water
  • rock (hard and soft rock): blasting, dust, stability, extraction without permission
  • sand/clay quarries: dust, water quality, stability of tailings storage, rehabilitation, batter stability, water removal
  • gypsum: vegetation, rehabilitation
  • minerals sands: dust, water, rehabilitation
  • petroleum: well integrity.

We have agreements in place with other government agencies to:

  • assist decision-making
  • help the industry sectors get a better understanding of their obligations
  • and ensure that our decisions are transparent and consistent.

After an approval has been granted, an operator must keep us up-to-date with information on its activities. This includes:

  • completing reports on time
  • contacting us if issues arise or if guidance is needed
  • managing risks
  • paying attention to conditions.

We conduct inspections to make sure that operators are meeting the conditions on their approvals.

We will conduct proactive activities to encourage compliance including industry seminars and forums; guidance materials; and community engagement activities.

We also publish case studies and materials on ‘how it should be done’ to assist compliance.

We use a range of methods to address non-compliance, from requiring the remedy of identified risks or breaches, through to financial penalties and prosecutions.

We will take enforcement action proportionate to the seriousness of the non-compliance.

Page last updated: 30 Dec 2020