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Making a Submission on a Mining Proposal

Mining proposals may include applications for Mineral Leases, Extractive Mineral Leases, Retention Leases and Miscellaneous Purposes Licences.

Exploration Licence applications and those relating to Private Mines are not included.

For an explanation of the different types of tenure see the Department of State Development's Minerals Regulatory Guidelines MG1: Guidelines for miners: mining approval processes in South Australia (.pdf 663.4kb)

Note: the former DMITRE is now part of the Department of State Development

1.0 Introduction
1.1 Why is my comment important?
1.2 What are the legislative requirements?

2.0 Where to get information
2.1 How do I get information about a mining proposal?
2.2 How do I get information about the assessment process?
2.3 How do I get information about my rights as a landowner?

3.0 Things to consider before making a submission
3.1 What happens to my submission?
3.2 Can I get an extension to the deadline to make comment?
3.3 Why doesn't it appear that my comments have been taken into account?

4.0 Preparing a submission
4.1 How do I make a submission?
4.2 What do I need to consider when I'm putting my submission together?
4.3 How do I make the most effective contribution in my submission?


1.0 Introduction

1.1 Why is my comment important?

Whilst mining is important for the economic development of South Australia, it is also important that the potential impacts on the environment and on the broader community are identified and considered.

The Mineral Resources Division within the Department of State Development have adopted recognised national regulatory principles and approaches and these are summarised in the Minerals Regulatory Guidelines MG1: Guidelines for miners: mining approval processes in South Australia (.pdf 663.4kb).

Public consultation underpins these principles and approaches.

For individual mining proposals it is recognised that:

  • It is essential to engage with people who are directly affected by the proposal.
  • Communities have a wealth of knowledge about their local environment that may not be available to the proponent or the Mineral Resources Division of the Department of State Development through formal records.
  • 'Win-Win' opportunities for the local community and the proponent may be identified through two-way flow of information between the community and proponents.

1.2 What are the legislative requirements?

For new lease or licence applications Section 35A(1) or 53(2) of the Mining Act 1971 (external site) requires the Minister for Mineral Resources Development to publish a notice in a newspaper inviting the public to make written submissions concerning the proposal.

The application is always advertised in 'The Advertiser' and the 'Government Gazette'. Local newspapers are also used in some cases.

The lease or licence application must also be directly circulated to the local council and the landowner of the site (Section 35A(1a) and (2) or 53(4) of the Mining Act 1971).

The minimum specified time for consultation is 14 days, but this may be extended for major projects or projects where significant public comment is anticipated.

Under Section 35 of the Mining Act a Mining Lease application must be accompanied by a mining proposal (or for Miscellaneous Purposes Licences a Management Plan under Section 53) that complies with the Mining Act and the relevant Minister's Determination under the Mining Regulations 2011.

The legislation requires that when the Minister makes the decision whether to grant or refuse the application, and what conditions should be placed on the lease or licence if granted, the Minister must have regard to any submissions made in response to the public notice or submissions from the local council and affected landowner. This means that your input is essential to setting the environmental standards the mine must comply with (and which will be strictly enforced by the Department of State Development) should the lease or licence be granted. In accordance with Section 35B of the Mining Act, you will be notified of the decision in writing, including the terms and conditions of the lease if it has been granted.

The grant of the lease is only the first stage of a 2-stage approval process for new mines.

If the lease is granted, the leaseholder must prepare a program for environment protection and rehabilitation (PEPR) for approval under Section 70E of the Mining Act prior to commencing mining operations or no longer than 12 months after the lease was granted.

In addition, authorisations may be required under other legislation, for example the Native Vegetation Act (1991) (external site) and the Environment Protection Act (1993) (external site).

Public consultation is not required under the Mining Act 1971 for this second stage.

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2.0 Where to get information

2.1 How do I get information about a mining proposal?

Mining lease proposal documents are available from the Public Notices section of the Department of State Development's Mineral Resources Division website. If you have difficulty downloading information from the site, contact the relevant assessment officer and ask for a copy to be sent to you. Digital copies will be emailed free of charge. If you require a hard copy, a charge may be made to cover the cost of copying and postage.

A landowner who is directly affected by the mining proposal will be notified by a letter from the Department of State Development's Mineral Resources Division.

The local council is also directly informed about mining proposals in their council area. You can ask to see a copy of the proposal at the local council offices.

If you have any queries regarding a particular application, please contact the Assessment Officer whose name and contact details appear on the request for comment.

2.2 How do I get information about the assessment process?

The 2-stage approval process, including the importance of public consultation and community engagement, is outlined in Minerals Regulatory Guidelines MG1: Guidelines for miners: mining approval processes in South Australia (.pdf 663.4kb).

Specific requirements for information expected to be provided by the proponent in support of their application is given in Determinations.

2.3 How do I get information about my rights as a landowner?

Information for landowners who might be directly affected by proposals, including information on important legal rights that some landowners may have in regard to mining on or adjacent to their land is given in Minerals Regulatory Guidelines MG4 - Guidelines: landowner rights and access arrangements in relation to mineral exploration and mining in South Australia (.pdf 1.1Mb)

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3.0 Things to consider before making a submission

3.1 What happens to my submission?

Full copies of all submissions received are forwarded to the proponent and may be made available for public inspection unless confidentiality is requested.

If there are any parts of your submission you do not want to be made public, please indicate this clearly in your submission.

Submissions may be quoted in the response document submitted by the proponent or in the Department of State Development's assessment report. 

The Department of State Development's Mineral Resources Division will assess the responses received and require the proponent to address specified issues before the assessment of the mining proposal can proceed.

Other issues raised may be:

The Minister will consider this response when assessing the application. If the application is granted, conditions will be attached to the approval. Often these conditions will incorporate matters that have been raised by public submissions.

The time from closing of submissions to finalisation of the assessment report and offer of the lease is usually between 1–3 months depending upon the scale and complexity of the proposal.

DSD will generally send an acknowledgement letter to people who have made submissions.

As noted above, in accordance with Section 35B of the Mining Act, you will be notified of the decision in writing, including the terms and conditions of the lease if it has been granted.

3.2 Can I get an extension to the deadline to make comment?

You can apply to the assessment officer listed with the invitation to comment for an extension to the deadline to submit your comments, however this will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.

You should support your request for an extension by providing evidence that you could not have practically responded within the specified timeframe.

3.3 Why doesn't it appear that my comments have been taken into account?

Sometimes it may be difficult to see that the comments you have made have been taken into account in the assessment report. This may be due to:

  • The submission not clearly articulating the specific impact you are concerned about
  • The Department of State Development assessing that the impact can be adequately managed, based on current industry practices
  • The Department of State Development assessing the balance between the impact and the potential public benefits of the proposal (this may mean, for example, state-wide benefits that may outweigh local impacts)
  • The submission is outside the scope of the Mining Act 1971 jurisdiction
  • The issue is a private matter between a landowner and the mining proponent (for example compensation issues)
  • The issue being of minor or detailed nature that will be dealt with during the activity approval stage, i.e approval of the program for environment protection and rehabilitation.

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4.0 Preparing a submission

4.1 How do I make a submission?

Submissions must be in writing and can be either posted, hand delivered or couriered, or emailed.

Postal address: Mining Regulation Branch
Mineral Resources Division
Department of State Development
GPO Box 320
Adelaide
South Australia 5001
Hand deliver or courier to: Customer Services
7th Floor
101 Grenfell Street
Adelaide 5000
Email to:

dsd.miningregrehab@sa.gov.au

or

the Assessment Officer listed in the Public Notice

 

4.2 What do I need to consider when I'm putting my submission together?

About 'outcomes'
An outcome is a statement of the acceptable impact on the environment (which may be no impact) caused by the proposed mining activities. Outcome statements must be accompanied by measurable assessment criteria which are designed to demonstrate that the oucome has been achieved. The Department of State Development will regulate the operation against the approved criteria.

An example of an outcome related to surface water might be:

'Surface water that leaves the mine lease is free of sediment and is of a quality suitable for watering stock'

And a criterion for this outcome might be:

'Surface water is sampled when overflowing the silt trap and is analysed for salt and sediment content. The analysis demonstrates that the water is below National Environment Protection Council (NEPM) standards for stock water and meets Environment Protection Authority (EPA) standards for turbidity'

Refer to Minerals Regulatory Guidelines MG2 Preparation of a Mining Lease Proposal or Mining Rehabilitation Program (MARP) in South Australia (.pdf 626.0kb) for more information on outcomes and criteria.

In your consideration of the proposal, we suggest that you focus your comments on the following matters:

  • Provide information on any aspect of the existing environment that either
    • has not been included in the proposal; or
    • that you consider has been inadequately described (examples might be survey of existing weeds, proximity to housing, local climate, areas of particular amenity or value to the local community)
  • Describe any potential environmental, social and economic impacts that have not been identified in the proposal document (examples might be noise nuisance for local residents, loss of visual amenity for the local community) 
  • Consider the impact events indentified in the proposal. For each of the impact Source/Events described, plus any others you may have identified, consider if the outcomes proposed are acceptable. If not, try and describe the outcome you would find acceptable.
  • Consider the mine closure outcomes and criteria. Are the closure outcomes appropriate and sufficient? Closure outcomes are those that apply when the mine has ceased operation and rehabilitation is completed. What closure outcomes would you like to see?
  • Are the identified benefits of the proposal reasonable? Are there any other benefits you see could arise from the proposal?
  • Does the community consultation process outlined in the proposal document match with your perception of the consultation process? How could the consultation process be improved? Are there key stakeholders that have been overlooked?

4.3 How do I make the most effective contribution in my submission?

For your response to have the greatest contribution to the assessment process, you should focus on providing evidence to support your concerns.

The comments should relate directly to the mining process on the proposed lease area, and not include issues outside the scope of the Mining Act 1971, e.g. processing of the ore at a site other than the mine site.

Landowner compensation issues are more appropriately dealt with via a separate part of the Mining Act 1971, and where appropriate by the Warden's Court (refer to Minerals Regulatory Guidelines MG4 - Guidelines: landowner rights and access arrangements in relation to mineral exploration and mining in South Australia (.pdf 1.1Mb) as these are private issues between the landowner and the proponent.

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