Before November 2019, the requirements for mining near dams were covered by the Mining Act 1992. These now come under the Dams Safety Act 2015.
The requirements are similar to the previous provisions. The main difference is that a consent authority must consider matters raised by Dams Safety NSW before granting development consent for any mining operations in a notification area.
Mining near dams
Dams Safety NSW may declare an area of land that surrounds, or is in the vicinity of, a declared dam as a “notification area” (section 48 of the Act).
Before granting development consent for any mining operations in a notification area, a consent authority must:
- refer the application for development consent to Dams Safety NSW, and
- consider any matters that are raised by Dams Safety NSW about the application.
Mining in notification areas
In accordance with the Act, the consent authority will refer an application for mining within a notification area to Dams Safety NSW.
Dams Safety NSW will normally have 28 days to assess the application and raise any dam safety concerns with the consent authority. Dams Safety NSW may request a time extension from the consent authority if needed.
The aim is to determine that mining operations will not introduce unacceptable dams safety risks, based on the dam’s design and construction and its consequence category.
Continuation of lease conditions
Any existing lease conditions that relate to mining in notification areas continue to apply. Any reference to the Dams Safety Committee in existing lease conditions can be taken to refer to Dams Safety NSW, and the conditions remain in force. For example:
- a lease condition that requires notification to the minister of any plans to mine in a notification area
- a specific lease condition that required regular reporting of mining parameters to the Dams Safety Committee. The lease holder must report to Dams Safety NSW in accordance with the lease condition.
A notification area is an area which underlies or surrounds a declared dam. The notification area is defined by straight lines joining a series of coordinates and is also identified on a map. The notification area is set out in an order published in the NSW State Government Gazette.
Not all declared dams have notification areas, only those dams which Dams Safety NSW considers may be affected by mining.
Declared dams with notification areas defined are listed here
Review of notification areas
Dams Safety NSW may review and modify a declared dam notification area. A review may result from the receipt of additional information about risks from mining operations, or from a Dams Safety NSW policy determination on the extent of notification areas required for declared dams.
Dams Safety NSW will also consider review requests from an owner of a declared dam. Requests may be sent via email to email@example.com