OPAL Industry Australia


New system predicted to be more complicated, expensive and time consuming.

The government currently has a Bill (Courts and Crimes Legislation Further Amendment Bill 2008) before Parliament to transfer the jurisdiction of the Mining Warden to the Land and Environment Court.

The Bill amends the Land and Environment Court Act, the Mining Act and the Petroleum (Onshore) Act.

The Mining Wardens have a history that dates back to the nineteenth century and have been responsible for determining disputes in relation to mining activities since the earliest days of mining within NSW. The LRMA is appalled that such a radical change of legislation can occur without consultation with industry. We have been liaising closely with the NSW Minerals Council and they were also unaware of the situation until recently.

The new regime will include a Commissioner for Mining and the Attorney General’s office has assured us this person will continue to travel to Lightning Ridge. It appears that as the government has the numbers in the Legislative Assembly and the support of the Greens in the Legislative Council this Bill is likely to become law. If successful the new legislation will commence early next year.

In the meantime the LRMA and the NSW Minerals Council are working towards ensuring that in practice the new regime remains as close to the existing regime as possible. The recently retired Mining Warden, Magistrate John Bailey is staying on for a bit longer to assist the Land and Environment Court through the transitional stage.

We are still working out all the ramifications of the Bill but the Mining Act 1992 is still the Mining Act no matter which Court hears disputes in relation to mining. The Land and Environment will in the same way the Warden’s Court did, have to rule on disputes according to the Mining Act, although it will probably be more complicated, expensive and time consuming.

Maxine O’Brien
Lightning Ridge Miners’ Association Ltd