PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Despite objections from the resources sector and dire warnings about the impact it will have on the development of coal projects, the Queensland Parliament has backed the Environmental Protection (Underground Water Management) and Other Legislation Amendment (EPOLA) Bill.
In essence, the Bill is aimed at strengthening the effectiveness of the environmental assessment of underground water extraction by resource projects, while allowing for the ongoing scrutiny of the environmental impacts of underground water extraction during the operational phase of a resource project.
The Bill is also aimed at improving the ‘make good’ framework in the current Water Act, ensuring that the administering authority for the Environmental Protection Act is a decision-maker for specific applications relating to environmental authorities.
Further, the Bill will ensure that mining projects that are advanced in their environmental and mining tenure approvals are appropriately assessed for their impact on the environment and underground water users, and that opportunities for public submissions and third-party appeals are provided before underground water is taken in a regulated area for mine dewatering purposes.
It is this last objective that is causing havoc among the resource companies in Queensland, which are arguing that additional approval requirements for projects already in the development pipeline could impact on project scheduling and financial investment decisions.
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