Mined land represents a small percentage of Australia’s land mass, yet Australia’s minerals industry takes its responsibility as a temporary custodian of this land seriously.
The Australian mining industry is a significant land manager at a local level, particularly in remote and regional areas.
Land under management by mining companies can make a valuable contribution to biodiversity, conservation or be used to support landscape connectivity.
The industry also works collectively to share and advance best practice to harness local, traditional and expert knowledge, including through company partnerships with environmental and community organisations.
Australia’s mining industry is also the nation’s third-largest employer of environmental scientists, with 13,000 specialists in roles ranging from water management experts to mine rehabilitation and closure advisers.
The MCA supports the well-established ‘avoid-minimise-mitigate’ hierarchy to managing land values, including in regards to land disturbance and native vegetation clearing.
Given that the location of a geological resource constrains mining operation locations (particularly where ore is mined), there may be instances when it is necessary to manage impact on biodiversity values through the use of offsets.
Recognising its responsibility as a temporary custodian of land, the industry’s goal is for mined land to be available for future economic activity, conservation or community use.
In line with evolving community expectations, the minerals industry’s approach to land rehabilitation has improved significantly in recent decades.
Post-mining land uses are considered at the mine design stage and defined throughout the mining lifecycle, incorporating regional environmental values and community preferences among other factors.
Biodiversity offsets enable a proponent to deliver an overall conservation outcome that improves or maintains the viability of the aspect of the environment protected by the Commonwealth and/or States/Northern Territory.
Innovative approaches to native vegetation offsets are providing new ways of supporting strategic biodiversity conservation outcomes as well as greater involvement of Traditional Owners, environmental organisations and community representatives in land management decisions.
As part of its commitment to sustainable development, the minerals industry works closely and collaboratively with environmental and community organisations, governments and other stakeholders to support biodiversity conservation, capture and apply traditional ecological knowledge and encourage connection with nature.
Over many decades the industry has partnered with Traditional Owners to develop and implement plans that promote and harness traditional ecological knowledge, and implement culturally-appropriate strategies for flora and fauna management.
Substantial opportunities exist for other sectors to learn from shared experience within the mining sector.
The MCA supports delivery of sustainable land use outcomes through recognition and integration of multiple values within the landscape (conservation, economic, social and cultural) with the aim of maximising these values.