NT Government transparency on mining environmental bonds welcomed

The Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC) welcomes the Northern Territory Government’s adoption of a policy of disclosure for mining security bond amounts. The Government will now disclose the amount of security held against individual authorised mining activities projects, including for exploration, extractive and mines. 

Previously, the total finance of these bonds and individual amounts for mines has been withheld from the public, which is a major barrier to ensuring the environmental accountability and transparency of the industry. 

Mining companies are required under law to provide a certain sum to the government to fund the cost of rehabilitating the site after mining is complete in the form of an environmental security. Bonds also operate as a financial incentive for compliance with the Mining Management Act and cover the cost of any environmental damage as a result of regulatory breaches. 

 “This policy shift represents a major step forward in improving transparency and accountability of the industry which is drastically needed for ongoing community acceptance of mining in the NT,” said Alex Read, Policy Officer at the ALEC.

“The capability of a mining project to gain and hold a social licence is dependent on the company being able to prove environmental credentials for the project and to provide the necessary finance for rehabilitation. Security bonds are necessary to ensure that proper environmental rehabilitation can occur regardless of the financial state of the company, and so this expense does not fall back to the community,” said Alex Read.

 “This decision comes at a time when the Territory is already grappling with the issue of legacy mines that are leaching contaminants into the environment because companies are escaping rehabilitation and compliance responsibilities. Most of these sites ceased operations before 2005 and predated the requirements for operators to lodge a rehabilitation security bond. The estimated level of historical mining liabilities is $1 billion.”

“ALEC will continue to advocate for cleaning up existing sites, responsible environmental policies and a transparent and accountable resources sector,” said Alex Read.

The total security figures for each operating mine can be accessed at: https://dpir.nt.gov.au/mining-and-energy/mines-and-energy-publications-information-and-statistics/mining-environmental-reports/mining-securities

Note: Mining management plans for major operating mines remain commercial in confidence. 

Relevant Articles:

 http://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2017-09-13/northern-territory-government-reveals-environmental-mining-bonds/8940332

 https://blogs.crikey.com.au/northern/2017/09/14/mining-nt-gunner-government-made-good-start/

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