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Private Mines Amendment Bill Reintroduced

01 June 2022

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS:

The bill that I am moving today, the Mining (Environmental Impact of Private Mines) Amendment Bill, is an amendment to the Mining Act of 1971. For continuing members this is not a new bill. I introduced this back in the Fifty-Fourth Parliament, and I am bringing it back because it is a good idea to ensure that, when we are looking at private mines, the same obligations in terms of consultation apply and that the same rules in terms of respect for our environment apply.

It is very timely for me to put this bill forward at this time, because we know that the people of Bragg will soon face a by-election and this is a really important issue for that local community. Indeed, members may be familiar with the White Rock Quarry and the push to expand that and what that represents in terms of encroachment on private land and community amenity. It is a big issue in that community and I know people in that area will be watching this debate with great interest.

When I first introduced this bill back in the previous parliament I provided a bit of history in my second reading speech, and I will refer to that today. Back in 1971 private mines were exempt from the Mining Act, which means that, unlike other tenements under the Mining Act, a private mine cannot be forfeited, relinquished, suspended or cancelled and it does not expire. Private mines are antiquated. They are an old-fashioned scheme, and they have different legal protections to other mines in South Australia.

The Mining (Environmental Impact of Private Mines) Amendment Bill seeks to amend the Mining Act of 1971, to improve community consultation and ensure consideration of the environmental and health factors associated with private mines. So under the current act private mines are exempt from the broader definitions of the environment that commercial mineral operations are required to adhere to. I will read them into Hansard for the benefit of members. That is, other mines are required to consider the impact on:

(a) land, air, water…organisms, ecosystems, native fauna and other features or elements of the natural environment…cultural artefacts…existing or permissible land use…public health, safety or amenity…geological heritage values of an area…the aesthetic or cultural values of an area.

What this bill does is to remove that limited definition of 'environment' that exists specifically for private mines and, instead, ensures that the broader definition that applies for other forms of mining is so applied in this instance.

To give you a sense of the problem, there are approximately 222 private mines across South Australia, 136 of those are understood to be actively mined and 86 are inactive. That is as determined by their royalty returns. It really is time that we had a consistent regime and that is what this bill is seeking to provide.