Earth Resources Regulation has taken key steps to support more active rehabilitation of Victoria’s mines and quarries by applying more accurate contingency costings to rehabilitate sites once resource extraction ends.
Rehabilitation bonds held by the regulator provide financial assurance that site rehabilitation will occur with funds available to rehabilitate sites if an operator defaults on their statutory obligations.
Bonds are required to cover 100 per cent of the estimated cost of site rehabilitation but the costing rates used have not been updated since 2010. The regulator has now updated its rehabilitation bond calculator to ensure contingency amounts reflect expected costs.
An important change to the way bond amounts are calculated now recognises ongoing and completed rehabilitation works, this encourages site operators to complete rehabilitation work early rather than waiting until their projects are completed.
This work is a key deliverable of the Regulatory Practice Strategy for the Rehabilitation of Earth Resources Sites, released in February 2020, to help improve the state’s rehabilitation provisions and address some of the issues highlighted by Auditor General’s August 2020 report.
Earth Resources Regulation will work closely with site operators to progressively review estimated rehabilitation costs and bonds using the updated calculator. The highest risk sites will be prioritised including those nearing the end of their resource life or undergoing expansion.
The regulator will adopt an education outreach approach for the majority of other mine and quarry sites to help operators reduce their rehabilitation liabilities and plan for future site rehabilitation.
To assist with this transition, information sessions will be held for all mine and quarry operators. Details of these sessions are available at earthresources.vic.gov.au – where the bond calculator and key details are also be available.
Most quarry and mining operators take their responsibilities seriously. Bonds are in place as a last resort so funds are available funds to complete the required rehabilitation work, if operators default.
Earth Resources Regulation accepts most rehabilitation bonds in the form of a bank guarantee. Bond values will increase and decrease over time, while the actual cost payable to service the bank guarantees will be substantially less, minimising the impact on site operators.