Review of SA’s Mining Act

On October 17 2019 the Statutes Amendment (Mineral Resources) Bill 2018 passed both houses of SA's Parliament, and will shortly enter into operation.

The Government has previously committed to further rounds of reform of the Mining Act, in addition to funding an independent mining advisory service for landowners through Rural Business Support. GPSA will hold the Government to these commitments.

GPSA’s principal interest in the Mining Act 1971 and the Statutes Amendment (Mineral Resources) Bill 2018 relates to South Australian grain producers dealing with explorers or miners seeking access to their properties.

We believe the Bill leaves substantive issues unresolved for agriculture. As such, GPSA could not the support Bill in its current format and provided a comprehensive list of amendments to improve the Government’s legislation.

GPSA has worked constructively with the Marshall Government, the SA Chamber of Mines and Energy and all other relevant stakeholders to reach a solution which better balances agriculture with competing land uses such as mining to protect the sustainability of agricultural production for future generations

As part of our advocacy efforts, GPSA responded to requests for comment on draft regulations concerning the land access regime and the Mining and Resources Industry Land Access Dispute Resolution Code.

GPSA and SACOME held a roundtable on the 6th February 2019 which engaged national leaders including National Farmers’ Federation president Fiona Simson and CEO Tony Mahar.

The roundtable – chaired by Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce – included Minerals Council of Australia chair Dr Vanessa Guthrie and CEO Tania Constable, SACOME CEO Rebecca Knol and president Greg Hall. Representing GPSA was chair Wade Dabinett and CEO Caroline Rhodes, as well as Primary Producers SA executive chair Rob Kerin.

An independent review – conducted separately from the Department for Energy and Mining and the Department of State Development – has been an integral part of GPSA’s mining policy ever since 2016 when the previous State Government commenced the Leading Practice Mining Acts Review of the Mining Act 1971, the Mines and Works Inspection Act 1920 and the Opal Mining Act 1995.

This review into SA’s mining laws would, among other things, thoroughly examine best practice land access frameworks in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia.

GPSA also believes that a government funded mining advisory service is urgently required. This should be established as a priority to provide free, confidential and independent advice to farmers facing land access issues.

On behalf of South Australian growers, GPSA will continue to advocate for the need to balance agriculture with competing land uses such as mining, to protect the sustainability of agricultural production for future generations.

History

A major review of SA’s mining legislation was commissioned by the previous State Government in 2016 which resulted in the Statutes Amendment (Leading Practice in Mining) Bill 2017. This Bill proposed amendments to the Mining Act 1971, amongst others, but lapsed due to the timing of the 2018 South Australian election.

In its 2018 election policy statement, GPSA identified the need to balance agriculture with competing land uses. This statement was released to all major parties for response. In the document, GPSA also lobbied for an independent review of the Mining Act.

In Opposition, the State Liberals committed to thorough and meaningful consultation with primary industry as part of the legislative process, and support for the Small Business Commissioner to administer a Code of Conduct and dispute resolution service.

Together with other peak bodies, the farm sector called for a dedicated, government- funded resource to be situated in Primary Producers SA to help farmers access information on their rights when faced with a mining company wanting to explore on their property. 

GPSA has worked with both major parties, individual members, as well as the crossbench in Parliament to deliver amendments which strengthened the rights of landholders and address the imbalance which has been carried over from the previous Bill. GPSA continues to seek a full independent review of laws governing mineral exploration and mining activity on agricultural land, currently established under the Mining Act 1971.

Further Information

Further information and a guide to the proposed Bill is available here

On the 10th October 2018, GPSA provided the Small Business Commissioner with a submission on the Mining and Resources Industry Land Access Dispute Resolution Code. Read GPSA's submission here.

On the 19th November 2018, GPSA provided the Department for Energy and Mining with a submission on the proposed draft regulations concerning the land access regime. Read GPSA's submission here.

On the 28th February 2019, GPSA provided the Minister with a detailed mining policy document that sets out GPSA’s required legislative amendments. Read GPSA's Mining Policy document here.

On the 10th April 2019, GPSA, PPSA, and Livestock SA reiterated their call for an independent review of the state's mining laws after learning that the Bill had again stalled. Read the media release here.

On the 3rd July 2019, GPSA responded to the passage of changes to the Mining Bill in the House of Assembly. Read the media release here. GPSA has updated its Mining Policy document to reflect the passage of the Bill through the House. Read the updated document here.


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