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Law Reform · Access to Justice

Committee Report on Mining Bill

08 September, 2014

The Agriculture, Resources and Environment Committee of the Queensland Parliament recommended passing the controversial Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Bill 2014, subject to a review of the Land Access Code and resource companies paying for the reasonable costs of landholder negotiations. 

This Bill, which will remove objection rights to 90% of mines and the grounds upon which landholders can object, is set to be debated this week.

Although there is strong community opposition, the removal of public objection rights to Mining Leases, and to over 90% of Environment Authorities, has been approved.

As the report states, 'reforms...relating to notification and objection, were the subject of widespread concern arising from landholders, the agriculture sector, environmental and community organisations, legal professionals and general members of the community.'

The complete removal of objection rights and public notification for Environmental Authorities for low-risk mines was recommended to be passed by the committee, despite the committee finding that '[t]here is no evidence of vexatious litigation in relation to those low level, what we call standard applications'.

In fact, the lack of objections to these mines was used to justify the removal of such a right. Parties in opposition to these changes included Shine Lawyers, and Ergon Energy. Read more from Shine Lawyers here.

Another concern is that the proposed definition of 'directly affected landowners' does not include neighbouring properties that are not subject to the Mining Lease, or used for access. This was opposed by many parties, because neighbours are still affected by noise, dust, light, and water impacts of mining almost as much as host properties. The committee accepted the Department of Natural Resource and Mines assurances that small-scale mines do not have major impacts on neighbouring properties.

The grounds of objection  for high risk mines, under the Mineral Resources Act 1989, will also been narrowed - dealing a further blow to individual and community rights. Councils are limited to concerns about the impact on the infrastructure they own, landowners used for access are restricted to the reasonableness of the access, and landowners with a mine on their own property can only raise objections on sound and appropriate land use. The committee recommended passing this proposal.

Environmental Defenders Office Queensland (EDO Qld) gives a strong legal voice to the environment when needed most.

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