All states have been provided the authority to manage their own mining regime and thus separate legislations have been enacted by states to regulate the mining activities within them. The paper deals particularly with the mining regulations of the state of Western Australia. The law related to mining in WA is provided through the Mining Act 1978 (WA). Other legislation related to mining in WA is the Offshore Minerals Act 2003, the Mining Regulations 1981 (WA), Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994 (WA) and Mining Safety and Inspection Regulations 1995 (WA). Part IV, Division 1 of MA is related to the provisions of prospecting licenses (the (Mining Act 1978, s. 40-56B). The division deals with the grant, application, determination and conditions related to prospecting license. A prospecting license is provided for a period of four years and can be extended further for a period of four years. Division 2 of the part deals with the rules related to exploration license (The Mining Act 1978, s. 56C-70.) Exploration license are provided for two years and can be extended to an additional two years. The divisions provide how exploration licenses are granted, application for licenses, security, expenditure conditions and forfeiture. Divisions 2A of this part deal with the provisions related to retention license the (Mining Act 1978, s. 70A-70N). Division 3 of the part provides provisions related to Mining lease and explain how such lease is granted, how the application has to be made, how such application is determined and how the leases are issued. Mining leases can be provided for a period of 21 years and can be renewed further.
The obligations which the license holders have to go comply with include provisions of Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 (WA), all holes which are drilled have to be capped and filled after completion, all costeans and other contamination to the land which is made by exploration has to be rehabilitated and backfilled in accordance with the DMP environmental officer, before the termination of the exploration program all rubbish and waste materials have to be removed, rehabilitation and backfilling has to be done within six months of excavation, the rehabilitation requirements also have to be adhered by after the conclusion of the process according to the MA. The Environmental Protection Act 1986 (Cth) (EPA) also govern environmental provisions related to mining activities. The grant of license by the MA has to be constructed in accordance to the provisions of the EPA. If a proposal is deemed to have a significant effect on the environment the EPA is entitled to review the proposal and reject, approve or approve with conditions. According to the Mining Rehabilitation Fund Act 2012 (WA) a compulsory scheme through which mining operators other than those operators whose tenements come under the state agreements have to pay regular levy and give distribution DATA into a fund as security for compliance. A consultation process also has to be initiated by the mining operators with the indigenous community affected by the project according to the Native Title Act 1993(Cth). Compensation has to be provided with respect to the size and type of project and the position of the company. Mining rehabilitation process is also governed in WA through the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990 (WA). The National Environment Protection Council (Western Australia) Act 1996 also provides provisions in relation to the protection of environment.
Along with the legislations which govern the mining procedures there are other code of practices which have to be followed by the operators in terms of health and safety of the workers and environmental safety so that accidents can be avoided. The codes of practices have been created to ensure that the process of mining is carried on in a safe way and the operators have simple guidelines to follow through which they can avoid any unwanted and hazardous incidents. In the last five years there have been several incidents related to mining in Australia resulting in fatalities. According to Australia’s Mining Monthly a worker had been killed in during the mining process in Yandicoogina on 4th July. It had been reported that the death of the worker was related to the use of explosive in an illegal manner by the mining operators. However according to Western Australian Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety the investigation process is still going on. According to Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety. (2017) during the year 2013-2014 death of sixteen mining workers were dead due to accidents in Australian mines. On 20th June 2016 a fitter died while doing maintenance work over a drilling rig near Paraburdoo. An offside worker collapsed underground as the conditions were too hot and died the next day in November 2015. Due to the rolling over of a haul truck at Cornishman a man was killed on 7th September 2015. A person was crushed between a roof of a cross cut and charge up basket at Telfer gold mine in May 2015. During the maintenance work a person was crushed fatally at Woodie Woodie Manganese mine. On 15th February 2014 a worker died as a rock fell on him in Harlquin Mine Norseman. There are various other fatalities which arise from time to time in the mining sector in Australia. One of the major reasons which can be cited for such facilities are the lack of compliance with the code of practices related to health and safety (McLennan, Becken and Moyle 2017). There have also been various cases related to the breach of environmental provisions by the mining companies. The concerns related to environment are rising day by day and mining companies are playing a major part towards polluting the environment. In the Kyodo Senpaku Kaish Case, Australia – Whaling the court fined the mining company of $1 million for the breach of environmental regulations (Leshy 2014).
The Government of western Australia Department of Mines , Industrial Regulations and Safety have provided various code of practices aimed at making the process of mining safer and sustainable. According to the code of practices related to the consultation at work as per the provisions of the Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994 it is the duty of the employers to consult with health representatives and the employees with regards to the safety and condition of the workplace. The responsibility of safety and health in the workplace is on all parties. This means that not only the employers but also the employees have the responsibilities to ensure their own safety in relation to the workplace and notify the employer in case of any potential danger. The code of practice in relation to mining surveys has been formulated by the government in order to ensure that the survey requirements in relation to the Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994 (WA) and Mines Safety and Inspection Regulations 1995 (WA) are complied with. The code is imposed upon all the mining surveyors who are employed to survey both surface and underground mining activities. The code of practice provides that both two and three dimensional non-digital recording is done in relation storage and preparation of a land mine. The code of practice recommends the transformation of mining plans to MGA94. It is also provided by the code of practice related to survey that sign conventions, definitions technical symbols for the shown strata of mine plan is included in the book of survey.
The code of practices related to the Mining exploration drillings have been made by the government so that a safe system of drilling work operations can be carried out especially in relation to remote areas. The code of practice acts as a formal guide for the purpose of compliance with health and safety legislations. It is applicable on any person who owes a duty of care according to the provisions of the code. As a code of practice is only related to a specific act or areas it is the duty of the responsibility holders that they do not omit any area and provide equal attention to all. The particular code of practice provides guidelines which are both non mandatory and mandatory in nature. The other codes of practices which have been provided by the government are for the Prevention and control of Legionnaires’ disease and Prevention and management of violence, aggression and bullying at work. These codes of practices provide guidelines to the managers, operators and the workers to make sure that they comply with the existing legislations through applying safe and legal practices and are not subjected to legal consequences.
Sustainability has also been a problem with the mining companies. It is often found that the mining companies are subjected to environmental fines as they do not abide by the policies relating to the sustainable use of the environment. The policies relating to the sustainable use of resources promote rehabilitation and taking appropriate measures to minimize environmental losses as provided in the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990 (WA)
The provisions of the codes of practices set out the best way a person should deal with in relation to a given situation. Hence if the codes of practices are followed it would lead to better management of activities which would decrease the accidents in the mining system. As technology is developing, new technology also has to be incorporated into the mining process in order to enhance the safety of the workers and avoiding accidents. The accountability of the managers in relation to such accidents are requires to be increased in order to prevent them from happening in the future.
The processes and procedures provided by the codes of practice, standards and guidelines related to mining have been drafted in accordance to the respective legislations of the WA related to mining activities. As the provisions of the codes and guidelines are in compliance with the legislations it ensures legislative compliance on the part of those who abide by them. Moreover it is easy to abide by the code of practices as they clearly set out actions to taken in particular circumstances as compared to the legislations. Thus the introduction of such policies and procedures has been effective in ensuring compliance with legislations.
Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety. (2017). Environment. [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 Aug. 2017].
Leshy, J.D., 2014. The mining law: a study in perpetual motion. Routledge.
McLennan, C.L.J., Becken, S. and Moyle, B.D., 2017. Framing in a contested space: media reporting on tourism and mining in Australia. Current Issues in Tourism, 20(9), pp.960-980.
Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994 (WA)
Mining Act 1978 (WA)
Mining Safety and Inspection Regulations 1995 (WA)
Mudd, G.M., 2010. The environmental sustainability of mining in Australia: key mega-trends and looming constraints. Resources Policy, 35(2), pp.98-115.
Offshore Minerals Act 2003 (WA)
The Environmental Protection Act 1986 (EPA) (Cth)
The Mining Regulations 1981 ()WA
Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990 (WA)