SPPA Professor Lisa Mills‘ paper “Getting closure? Mining rehabilitation reform in Queensland and Western Australia” was published in The Extractive Industries and Society, vol 11, September 2022. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.exis.2022.101097
- Mining legacies arising from orphaned and abandoned mines a global issue.
- Reform to address mining legacies pursued in two Australian states, Western Australia and Queensland.
- Both states replaced bond system with public assurance systems; however, Queensland’s system was more risk-averse
Orphaned, abandoned and inadequately rehabilitated mines have left of legacy of social, economic, and environmental risk. The failure of mine rehabilitation in Australia has become a policy issue in the last decade, with the two major mining states, Western Australia and Queensland, introducing reforms to their regulatory and financial assurance regimes in order to reduce the financial risk to the state. While similar reforms were introduced in both states, Queensland’s regime was more stringent in terms of reducing the risk to the state. This paper, which is based on analysis of government documents and legislation, as well as interviews with government, industry, and environmental group representatives in the two states, evaluates the two states’ regulatory changes through the lens of law and economics, and explains the reasons for the different policy decisions using Kingdon’s streams model. It argues that Queensland’s reform was more stringent because of the focusing events driving the reform; the political orientation of the government in power; and the organization responsible for developing policy options.