All mining and exploration approvals, including planning and environmental approvals, are governed by relevant local by-laws, state and federal government regulation, and legislation. Therefore, it’s logical that a close familiarity with these various laws and regulations would be pivotal to ensuring compliance, which is a building block of operational success.
It can be hard for any given exploration and mining company to have an intimate, in-house knowledge of these laws and regulations. This is especially the case when an exploration and mining company is venturing into new areas or mine sites, but one should not assume that the laws and regulations within a given area are static and fixed for all time.
A new policy can revolutionise compliance requirements and regulatory mechanisms. A legally minded individual whose focus is narrowed in on the operations of one mining or exploration company does not necessarily gain exposure to this ongoing flux, and may not be appropriately positioned to navigate tenement acquisition and compliance successfully and independently.
Less obvious, but just as important, is how knowledge of relevant mining laws and regulatory mechanisms can be essential when navigating this legal framework. Mining regulators seek to make decisions on the basis of actual fact, but a mining or exploration company’s success in obtaining tenure and licence goes beyond how compliant they are on the ground.
It also touches on how they can present their argument within this legal framework, that is, how correctly they can articulate an exploration and mining company’s position and actions in a way that is legally sound and appropriately adaptive to the regulatory mechanism that applies in that context. This principle is similar to the idea that a high-quality lawyer may be able to secure justice where a weaker, less experienced lawyer may fail to do so.
For over 30 years, Hetherington has been supporting exploration and mining companies to undertake mining and exploration, by helping them to secure the necessary environmental and planning approvals which can be so influential in determining a project’s ability to get off the ground, as well as its long-term success.
Any given mining or exploration project depends on a number of approvals, from the obvious, key approvals, to less obvious but equally important ancillary approvals. The value of engaging a mining legal consultant specialising in environmental, planning, and ancillary approvals for mining exists in the increased likelihood of success and security of tenure.
Hetherington can support your projects by providing advice in relation to environmental and planning approval requirements, due to their wide reach across the Australian mining sector that ensures a familiarity with mining governance in varied jurisdictions, from the granular detail to the high-level policy. Approvals for such projects may include activity approvals, programs for environment protection, rehabilitation, and programmes of work. They may also cover operational licences, such as environmental protection licences and water access licences.
Each of these approvals may need to be delivered in conjunction with an assessment, for example a groundwater assessment, an agricultural impact statement, or a threatened species assessment. In instances of a referral to the Environmental Protection Authority, these requisite assessments may include a biodiversity offset, a heritage impact assessment, or an environmental impact statement.
Hetherington’s services include advice, but also assistance in preparing and lodging these approvals and related assessments. Through our relationships and through our staff as well, we can offer on-site assessments. Regarding staff, this is managed through the environmental consultants at Hetherington Environmental. Regarding third parties, Hetherington can support with project management and organisation of required contractors for these assessments.
Intimately connected with the approval process and also with maintaining compliance, is the requirement to develop a plan of operation and other operational documents such as programs of work, mining operations plans, and rehabilitation management plans. These documents are crucial in demonstrating intent and a successful method to manage one’s environmental impact to regulators and can be pivotal to the success of a project and reducing its environmental impact.
Hetherington also offers advice on the reduction of liabilities connected with rehabilitation. Through our advice as mining lawyers, we intend to support you in progressive reduction of liabilities over time, to mitigate risk and achieve environmental, social and governance goals of your company.
Our services also cover other diverse aspects of mine work health and safety, tenement compliance, and environmental compliance. These include the closure and acquisition of roads, the preparation and lodgement of statutory reports for future and existing approvals, and the management of land title. This last point includes the review, analysis and management of land titles that may affect proposed or existing mining and exploration projects.
For more information on our services, we encourage you to browse the Hetherington website, or contact our team. We have offices in Sydney (02 9967 4844, email@example.com), Perth (08 9228 9977, firstname.lastname@example.org) and Brisbane (07 3236 1768, mailto:email@example.com).