Mining

The Tasmanian Greens believe that in a technological society such as ours, there is a reliance on mining as an economic imperative, and as a support to the resourcing of society. For those reasons, the Tasmanian Greens accept there will be a mining sector, including mineral exploration.

However, the Greens believe all mining activity must meet stringent long-term environmental protection standards while delivering short and medium-term economic benefits to the wider Tasmanian community. The mining sector should be both financially, environmentally and socially sustainable. Neither must it be conducted at the long-term expense of the environment. A robust, diverse economy is not dependent on any one sector for its general prosperity. One sector cannot be privileged or preferred over and above any other sector for unsubstantiated reasons.

It needs to be recognised that mining is highly dependent on metal prices, the global economy and the value of the Australian dollar. This can result in a boom / bust industry. It is important that there is sufficient diversity in the Tasmanian and regional economies to provide balance.

Some areas with outstanding natural and cultural values are too precious to exploit with a ‘dig it up, chop it down’ mentality. The sustainable jobs and wealth creation potential of areas like the Tarkine are in protecting the values and places that the rest of the world wants to see but is losing.

The mining and mineral exploration sector must meet stringent environmental protection standards and deliver both long and short-term benefits to the wider Tasmanian community.

Resource extraction decisions must be guided by rigorous independent environmental and social impact assessment.

Climate change must be a central consideration in the management of our mineral deposits, and particularly our fossil fuel resources.

Coal seam gas mining and underground coal gasification pose unacceptable threats to Tasmania’s land, water and industries, such as agriculture, grazing and tourism.

Tasmania’s natural resources must be managed in accordance with the principles of intergenerational equity, the precautionary principle, biodiversity conservation and respect for the traditional ownership by the state’s Aboriginal peoples.

Measures

Legislation and Regulation

The Tasmanian Greens will work to:

  1. recognise that mining is incompatible with some other forms of land use, especially agricultural and tourism activity, and requires rigorous assessment before ministerial or parliamentary approval;

  2. strengthen the rights of landholders regarding access, negotiation, appeal and compensation in regard to mining and resource extraction;

  3. require a comprehensive assessment of the full environmental, social and health impacts of all exploration and mining ventures before mine lease and exploration licence approval;

  4. prohibit mineral exploration and mining (including the extraction of oil, coal and gas) in residential areas, on prime agricultural land and in all terrestrial and marine nature conservation reserves, national parks, and other areas of high nature conservation value, except where there is a clear environmental benefit involving rehabilitation of previously degraded sites on reserved land;

  5. prohibit exploration for, and the mining or export of uranium;

  6. oppose the establishment of new coal mines and the expansion of existing mines;

  7. recognise the autonomy of the Mining Tribunal and review the legislation to ensure its functions are effective and in line with the autonomy of other planning processes;

  8. ensure no subsidy or exemption to legislation or regulation is granted to any mining venture;

  9. ban all mining within Tasmanian marine environments;

  10. rescind the legislated Strategic Prospectivity Zones that encourage prioritisation of mining ventures over other users of crown land;

  11. ensure an adequate resourcing level to Workplace Standards Tasmania to attract and retain suitably qualified staff and to administer mine safety compliance effectively.

Planning

The Tasmanian Greens will work to:

  1. reform the assessment process for mineral exploration and lease to remove contradictions with the statutory provisions of the Mineral Resources Development Act 1995 [MRDA];

  2. restructure the planning process so environmental assessments precede the granting of licences as required by the MRDA;

  3. amend the MRDA to establish rights of standing within the tribunal for third parties affected by mining and mineral exploration activity, consistent with rights granted in other state planning processes;

  4. introduce a scaled suite of penalties for breaches of lease or exploration licence conditions, and a requirement that the relevant state authority investigate and prosecute breaches.

Environmental Protection

The Tasmanian Greens will work to:

  1. ensure all mining applications are submitted to a comprehensive cost / benefit analysis, including remediation requirements during the assessment process;

  2. any approval should be contingent upon accurate and independent environmental, health and social impact assessment;

  3. refuse all coal seam, shale or tight gas developments, given the short and long-term risks to our water, land, communities, the climate, food production and marine areas;

  4. set environmental rehabilitation bonds from companies at levels sufficient to cover the longer-term expense of post-mining mitigation and rehabilitation, held for a period sufficient to insure against impacts realised after mine closure;

  5. ensure that mine decommissioning and long-term rehabilitation plans are assessed and approved prior to setting of rehabilitation bonds;

  6. consider and encourage the reopening of old mines where recommenced mining may create an opportunity to address legacy issues with a nett positive impact.

Review

The Tasmanian Greens will work to:

  1. establish rigorous independent monitoring of compliance with all formal undertakings and legal obligations of individual mining projects, including the rehabilitation phase;

  2. ensure review of the budgetary impacts of mining by Treasury, including royalty rates, lease and licence fees, public infrastructure, and the appropriateness of the current private investment model;

  3. institute independent monitoring of legacy coal seam gas, shale and tight gas projects, especially those which involved fracking, to ensure they are not causing significant damage to aquifers;

  4. withdraw approval of any project not meeting agreements or obligations;

  5. assess new technology used in mining on a regular basis;

  6. establish a regional Centre of Excellence in Mine Remediation and Technology Innovation to position Tasmania at the forefront at this emerging area of opportunity for the mining sector, and develop expertise, skills and technology which can be exported nationally and internationally.