Requirements for mining near dams are covered by the Dams Safety Act 2015. Before November 2019, they were covered by the Mining Act 1992.
A consent authority must consider matters raised by Dams Safety NSW before granting development consent for any mining operations in a notification area.
A notification area is an area that underlies or surrounds the wall of a declared dam. It is defined by straight lines joining a series of coordinates. Dams Safety NSW may declare an area of land around or near to a declared dam as a “notification area” under section 48 of the Dams Safety Act 2015.
Read more in our guideline about mining near declared dams.
Mining notification areas
Only declared dams that Dams Safety NSW consider may be affected by mining have notification areas. Notification areas are published in the NSW State Government Gazette and by Dams Safety NSW as a list of declared dams with notification areas.
Dams Safety NSW reviews mining development applications in notifications areas to determine that mining operations will not introduce unacceptable dams safety risks, based on the dam’s design, construction and consequence category Anyone who applies for consent to mine in a notification area must provide enough information on hazards and risks to the dam from the proposed mining activity for Dams Safety NSW to review.
Before a consent authority grants development consent for any mining operations in a notification area, they must:
- refer the development application to Dams Safety NSW, and
- consider any matters that Dams Safety NSW raises about the application.
We normally have 28 days to assess an application and raise any dam safety concerns with the consent authority. We can also request a time extension from the consent authority if needed.
You can view a list of declared dams with notification areas.
Reviewing notification areas
Dams Safety NSW may review and modify a declared dam notification area. This could happen after receiving additional information about risks from mining operations, or if the extent of notification areas required for declared dams changes.
We will also consider requests from declared dam owners. Contact Us to request a review of a notification area.
For mining consents granted before 1 November 2019, the associated mining lease conditions that relate to mining in notification areas continue to apply. All references to the former Dams Safety Committee in existing lease conditions, can now be taken to refer to Dams Safety NSW, and the conditions remain in force. For example:
- a lease condition that requires the Minister to be notified of any plans to mine in a notification area
- a specific lease condition that requires the lease holder to regularly report mining parameters to the Dams Safety Committee. The lease holder must now report to Dams Safety NSW.
Monitoring mining near dams
A mining lease may require the lease holder to regularly report mining parameters to Dams Safety NSW.
Management and monitoring programs aim to control residual risks, ensure good management of activities, and facilitate interaction between the declared dam owner and the mining company. It is important for mining companies to ensure that adequate resources are applied to the dam safety aspects. Where there is an extensive monitoring program the interface between the mining company and the dam owner should be well defined to ensure that the flow of information is handled efficiently by both parties.
Leases that impact declared dams or their notification areas are subject to declared dam conditions. The mine owner must approach Dams Safety NSW before commencing mining in the notification area. Dams Safety NSW informs the consent authority (in this case Planning) of any recommendations about monitoring the impact of mining on the dam.