Public Comment – Waste Management and Pollution Control Act Amendment Bill 2012

Dear Sir/Madam,

Re: Public Comment – Waste Management and Pollution Control Act Amendment Bill 2012

I refer to an invitation from your Ms Heidi Snell on 23rd February drawing our attention to the revised Bill and thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed legislation. This submission follows our earlier comments dated 27th January on the previous draft Bill.

The Minerals Council of Australia represents Australia’s exploration, mining and minerals processing industry, nationally and internationally, in its contribution to sustainable development and society. MCA’s member companies produce more than 85 per cent of Australia’s annual mineral output.

Northern Territory members comprise more than 100 individual mining, exploration and service support companies operating in the jurisdiction and comprise 25 per cent of the Territory’s gross state product, employing more than 4,600 people.

Under proposed new section 14 pollution reports must be lodged by any “relevant person”. Relevant persons are very widely defined and a multitude of people (including participants, hirers and occupiers in addition to the person conducting the activity) may each be required to provide a pollution report for a single incident. The outcome will certainly be that some “relevant  persons” will be unaware that they have an obligation to make a pollution report in some cases and duplication in reporting will required in many cases e.g. employer and each employee involved all reporting the same incident.

The obligations to make pollution reports in relation to activities conducted outside the tenement area, or for events that impact the environment beyond the tenement boundary are a concern for mining companies. In many different circumstances it can be very difficult for miners to determine whether their activities are regulated under the Mining Management Act, the Waste Management & Pollution Control Act or both. This creates a great deal of uncertainty regarding application of the reporting obligations.

The Bill is ambiguous regarding how ancillary activities occurring outside of mineral tenements are regulated. For example, haulage operations undertaken by the industry may be covered under the Mining Management Act and subject to approval as part of a Mine Management Plan, but where haulage and associated loading occurs at a rail head off the mineral lease it is unclear which regulatory regime applies.

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