Skip links and keyboard navigation

    Media Statements

    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Premier and Minister for Reconstruction
    The Honourable Anna Bligh
    Employment, Skills and Mining
    The Honourable Stirling Hinchliffe

    Urban areas off limits to mining exploration


    Premier and Minister for Reconstruction
    The Honourable Anna Bligh

    Employment, Skills and Mining
    The Honourable Stirling Hinchliffe

    Monday, August 15, 2011

    Urban areas off limits to mining exploration

    No mining exploration will be allowed in and around urban areas of Queensland, including regional centres such as Ipswich, Toowoomba, Beaudesert, Rockhampton, Mackay and St George Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said today, after a new policy was considered by Cabinet.

    The Premier said an exploration Restricted Area would be declared over land bound by the South East Queensland Regional Plan as well as other regional centres and towns with a population of 1,000 or more[1].

    The restriction will cover existing exploration permits as well as future permits in these areas.

    “It means there will be no more exploration activity on urban land or within a two kilometre buffer of urban land,” Ms Bligh said.

    “These restrictions are complimentary to the existing Strategic Cropping Legislation and will provide another layer of assurance for communities.

    “We have a tough regulatory framework and mines were always unlikely to be approved close to these urban areas.

    “But what these changes do is provide certainty upfront and end the anxiety so that residents don’t have to wait for the assessment process to run its course.

    “This is about striking the right balance between the needs of the resources sector, the environment, and the people who live and work in and around mining regions.

    “Queensland has a bright future and is on the cusp of an unprecedented resources boom, but the boom has to work for all Queenslanders.

    “Our record shows that we will never take the easy road of development at any price. We need to manage this massive opportunity responsibly and that is what we intend to do”

    Ms Bligh said the Government would take feedback on the draft legislation to enshrine the changes which is expected to be in place later this year.

    “Both the mining industry and local governments have previously indicated their support to resolve the uncertainty for residents on this issue,” she said.

    “These consistent restrictions are a sensible approach but it is possible that some communities may wish to remove the restrictions on mining in some part of their urban area.

    “Under the framework, the Minister will consider representations from local Mayors where a Council resolution has been passed in favour of ‘opting out’ of the framework for part of their urban area.”

    The Premier said a number of major mining investments in the pipeline in Queensland have the potential to deliver decades of jobs.

    “They’re exciting projects that will reinforce the state’s reputation as a hub for greener, cleaner, energy solutions. It’s a huge vote of confidence in Queensland and it’s important to get the basics right before the next boom,” Ms Bligh said.

    Employment Skills and Mining Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said Queensland has some of the toughest regulations in the world when it comes to mining exploration.

    “We’ve got the rules and regulations in place and new measures announced today will go a long way towards easing community concerns,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

    “I commend local MPs Kerry Shine from Toowoomba and Wayne Wendt from Ipswich for bringing community concerns to State Cabinet’s attention. The concerns their constituents raised with them have been catalyst for change,” he said.

    Mr Hinchliffe said an exploration Restricted Area would take effect from 16 August 2011.

    “Exploration permits for industrial minerals (those used in the building industry) will continue to be granted, following compliance with existing strict guidelines, regulations and environmental standards.

    “The legislation preventing development in urban areas will be in place later this year but companies that want to relinquish the relevant sub-blocks of their tenure before then will have an incentive to do so.

    “Companies that voluntarily relinquish tenure now will have it accredited towards their next relinquishment obligations.”

    “We will enshrine these changes by amending the Mineral Resources Act 1989 to prevent existing exploration tenure holders from undertaking any exploration activities in and around all urban areas across Queensland.

    “The interim Restricted Area will remain in place while legislative amendments are being prepared and we consult the community and industry about a long-term strategy to balance exploration and urban living.

    “Under the Petrolueum and Gas Act, I have also determined that no Authorities to Prospect will be issued over areas covered by the Restricted Area.

    “As a result, Coal Seam Gas exploration in cities and towns will be restricted even further,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

    “We are holding talks with industry bodies, local government and other key stakeholders on the reforms we have announced today.”

    Media Inquiries: Premier’s Office 3224 4500

    Minister’s Office 3227 8824

    [1] definition of an urban centre, Australian Bureau of Statistics