Acting premier and minister for state development in Australia’s Victoria state, Peter Ryan, has announced 36 red tape reforms designed to boost productivity and reduce costs for Victorian businesses. Four of the reforms specifically target mining regulations and have received expressions of support from Australia’s Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC).

Previously, Victoria’s rehabilitation bond requirements for mining license holders were inflexible, requiring 100% bonds upfront. This requirement has been reduced by up to 50% during the start-up phase of new mining and quarrying projects, when the risk of default is low and additional liability to the government is minimal. Also, a cash bond system for individual bonds of up to $10,000 has been instituted as an alternative to bank guarantees in appropriate circumstances, reducing costs and barriers to entry in the mining and extractive sectors.

Previously, the process for rehabilitation bond return in the mining sector was protracted. The process has been streamlined to ensure that bonds are returned as soon as possible following the successful conclusion of landowner consultation.

Previously, native vegetation offsets for private land clearing could be sourced only on private land. Offsets on crown land were extremely limited. The new standard will facilitate native vegetation offsetting on public land, making it cheaper and easier for businesses to meet their native vegetation offsetting obligations.

Previously, administration of mining exploration licenses was paper based. Now, mining application and reporting systems are being transitioned to an online format, including enabling online searches for existing licenses and online applications for new licenses.

Commenting on the reforms, AMEC CEO Simon Bennison said, “The Victorian government has evidently understood the needs of the mining and exploration sector. Victoria needs to compete with every other jurisdiction worldwide to attract exploration investment and remove costs.

“The reduction of environmental bonds and the determination to reduce assessment timeframes are a good start; however, more needs to be done to reduce costs and delays to industry….

“AMEC looks forward to further engagement with the Victorian government to ensure the effectiveness of these plans.”