Mine Site Rehabilitation
The Hon. A. B. MANSON: My question without notice is to the Minister for Mineral Resources, and Minister for Fisheries. I understand that the Government requires mining companies to lodge security deposits to help ensure full restoration of mine sites following expiration of mining. How will the Minister protect our environment and ensure that this system works?
The Hon. E. M. OBEID: I thank the Hon. A. B. Manson for his question and his continued interest in mining. The Carr Government is committed to protecting the environment, especially rehabilitation of derelict mine sites, and the community expects nothing less. Our record speaks for itself. Since 1995 the Carr Government has more than trebled funding for rehabilitation of abandoned sites, but it is early days yet and it has much more to do. This Government is determined to prevent this burden being paid by future generations by tackling this problem right from the start through security deposits.
The Government holds security on all titles under the mining and petroleum Acts. All new mines must supply security equivalent to the estimated cost of rehabilitation. Individual mines are lodging securities of up to $15 million. This will be used by the Government to complete the restoration of mine sites if the leaseholder defaults on its obligations. Two years ago the Carr Government reviewed liability and security bonds of nearly 100 New South Wales mines and many were increased to better reflect the amount of work required. As of 1 May 2000 the Government held securities worth more than $252 million. This includes securities worth more than $57.5 million for mineral leases, $193.4 for coal leases and $2 million for petroleum leases.
The Carr Government is serious about our environment. A new mining lease will not be granted if a company cannot afford a realistic security deposit. In this case the New South Wales Government regards the potential environmental and financial cost to this State as unacceptable. This Government, like no other, has demonstrated that it is committed to increasing mining and exploration in New South Wales. It creates vital jobs in our regions and boosts investment in rural New South Wales. Labor is serious about our environment and about supporting mining with appropriate controls. Security deposits ensure that our community benefits from mining and does not bear the financial burden of restoring mine sites.