NSW Department of Planning and Environment

Mine rehabilitation

The NSW Government ensures major mining projects use best-practice rehabilitation so previously mined land can be used for other purposes. A comprehensive regulatory framework targets the best outcomes for mine rehabilitation at the four key stages of a mine’s life cycle: exploration, assessment, operation and post-closure.
  This regulatory framework is comprised of planning conditions of consent, environmental protection licences and mining leases, as well as multi-agency compliance and enforcement.

What is mine rehabilitation?

The Mining Act 1992 defines rehabilitation as the treatment or management of disturbed land or water for the purpose of establishing a safe and stable environment. Mining rehabilitation can cover a range of activities such as demolition of infrastructure, remediation of contaminated land, establishing a final land form and re–vegetation. Rehabilitation can be carried out both during mining operations and after operations have ended.

Improvements in mine rehabilitation policy and regulation

We are working closely with the Department of Regional NSW (DRNSW) to implement reforms to strengthen rehabilitation and regulation requirements for all state significant mining projects in NSW. DRNSW has undertaken reforms of the mine rehabilitation framework under the Mining Act 1992. This package of reforms came into effect in July 2021.

The reforms build on the Improving Mine Rehabilitation in NSW discussion paper and consultation conducted by the Department of Planning and Environment in 2017/ 2018 and the NSW Auditor General’s report on Mining rehabilitation security deposits from 2017 and include:

  • new standard lease conditions for rehabilitation that require progressive rehabilitation, rehabilitation risk assessment, annual reporting and detailed rehabilitation management planning
  • form and way documents to identify the mandatory requirements for the preparation of:
    • rehabilitation management plans
    • rehabilitation objectives
    • rehabilitation completion criteria
    • final landform and rehabilitation plans
    • annual rehabilitation reports
    • forward programs
  • guides on risk assessments, records and rehabilitation controls
  • mine rehabilitation portal to collect rehabilitation GIS spatial data for large mining projects.

A new Suspension of Mining Operations Policy is also being finalised by DRNSW. The policy will set out how mines can suspend operations under the Mining Act and what will be considered when deciding whether to grant suspension. 

Find out more about the regulation of mine rehabilitation on the Resources regulator website.

Page last updated: 17/02/2023