NSW Planning and Environment
Draft guidelines for State significant mining, petroleum production and extractive industry development
About the AusIMM
The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (The AusIMM) was formed in 1893 and is the leading organisation representing over 13,000 minerals sector professional members in the Australasian region, across industry, government and academia.
Our members include professionals from traditional disciplines such as mining engineers, geoscientists and metallurgists, as well as from emerging disciplines such as business management, health and safety, social and environmental science.
With a focus on ‘enhancing professional excellence’, The AusIMM provides members with an ongoing program of professional development opportunities to ensure our members are supported throughout their careers to provide high quality professional input to industry and the community.
About the Community & Environment (C&E) Society of the AusIMM
The AusIMM Community and Environment Society aims to provide a balanced, informed voice which supports professionals in the minerals sector in community and environment related issues.
On occasions, the C&E Society identifies opportunities to represent it’s constituency in responding to draft regulation (and review) where it believes it’s professional knowledge can be applied to improve industry outcomes for all stakeholders.
The opportunity to provide comment on the “Draft guidelines for State significant mining, petroleum production and extractive industry development” represents one such opportunity.
The Draft Guidelines provide important guidance for proponents of “Significant Developments” to undertake socially responsible development. Importantly, the guidance draws upon the work of experts (eg Vanclay), incorporates industry knowledge, references local legislation and regulations and international practice. The Guiding Principles (2.4) for undertaking a Social Impact Assessment (SIA) in the context of a Social Impact Assessment (EIS) are well considered and include a “life of mine” approach which is consistent with AusIMM’s philosophy of mine planning, development and closure.
With the intent of providing constructive feedback, the AusIMM C&E Society offer the following items for consideration:
1. “Public Interest” is variably described – “the People of NSW” (potentially affected people p.10), and references “objects of the EP&A act” (4.2). Whilst a consideration of Assessment and Determination, it would be useful to provide examples of how “public interest” might be considered in these processes. Proponents are likely to be concerned as to the political nature of “public interest”, particularly from non-local NGO’s and other political activists.
2. References to legislation and regulations are understandably NSW centric. Some reference to Commonwealth legislation would be useful so that proponents can understand the connection between various processes and plan accordingly. For publicly listed companies, reference to ASX reporting requirements and the JORC code would be useful to demonstrate other aspects of compliance in the value chain of an EIS/SIA. Members of the AusIMM C&E Society are currently engaged in a working group which aims to provide guidance on JORC reporting of community and environmental performance by ASX listed companies.
3. The Guiding Principles (2.4) make no explicit reference to a Human Rights approach to assessing impacts. This could be incorporated with reference to industry guidance/toolkits such as ICMM’s “Integrating human rights due diligence into corporate risk management processes”. A “human-rights” approach is referenced when engaging Aboriginal Groups (p.28), but should not be limited to this group alone.
4. The importance of identifying and engaging vulnerable, disadvantaged and unrepresented groups is identified (p.11 & p.30). Additional guidance/reference would be helpful to explore how capacity issues can be overcome and the impacts that such processes may have on project timeframes and resources. For proponents with commitments to international standards on human rights and FPIC, engagement of groups with limited capacity can consume the majority of company resources and have significant impacts on project time-frames and acceptance.
5. The term “free, prior and informed consent” is loosely referenced (p.28). It is unclear whether this is a reference to international conventions of FPIC. It would be helpful to confirm the reference and provide additional guidance or reference material. There are a range of views as to what “Consent” means and proponents variably adopt different meanings. The objective of “ensuring free…” is very context specific and a change in the language is required to allow the necessary proponent and community views to be applied (eg seek, adhere to the principles of…).
6. There is currently no reference in the assessment process of a proponent’s past performance on human rights and social and environmental performance. The Minister could consider seeking submissions on the company’s governance structure and management systems as they relate to social and environmental performance.
7. “Monitoring and Adaptive Management” (p.22) is essential to demonstrate compliance to the SIA. The “core elements” (p.22) should reference the potential of independent research to accurately assess performance and build trust with the community. Capturing and responding to community feedback could also be included as a principle (“Grievance and feedback mechanisms” referenced under monitoring p.22).
8. The SIA guidance rightfully promotes the importance of early engagement to allow impacts and communities to be identified and for mitigation approaches to be proposed. For some projects, early engagement can heighten community concerns when access to information is limited and the potential impacts and outcomes are still quite uncertain. The guidance could be improved by highlighting the importance of developing feedback mechanism’s at an early stage (perhaps as part of an engagement plan) to ensure community concerns are responded to appropriately. This may include the integration of government resources where available.