The Government of Queensland in Australia is reportedly planning to announce a series of resource regulations next week to reform its rehabilitation laws for the mining industry.
The proposed changes will require miners to contribute to an ‘insurance fund’ to be set up for the remediation of old mines in the state, Reuters reported.
The new rules could impact all mining companies operating in the state, including BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Glencore.
If the regulations are ratified, they will represent the most significant changes made to the state’s financial assurance and rehabilitation framework in around two decades, the news agency stated citing a statement from the Queensland government.
Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad was quoted by Reuters as saying to local radio: “I’m confident this legislation strikes the right balance for the environment and the resources sector, while ensuring resource companies, not taxpayers, foot the bill for the rehabilitation of failed mines or stranded assets.
“All miners [will] have to pay into what is essentially an insurance fund to ensure that mine rehabilitation … happens in Queensland and we don’t leave a legacy for future generations where there are abandoned mines.”
Queensland is a major seaborne exporter of coal and also a major producer of zinc, lead, bauxite and silver.
The government will introduce the amendments, which were first proposed in October last year, in parliament next week. Prior to approval of the changes, the parliamentarians will engage in a debate over the issue.
In response to the proposed regulations, BHP Billiton chief executive Andrew Mackenzie said: “We have found it a relatively sensible debate and clearly we are not in support of everything that is being proposed, but we actually feel listened to and we understand why we have to have the discussion.”
A provision included in the amendments is aimed at allowing some miners to post insurance bonds in place of large cash holdings.