NEW EXPLORATION CODES OF PRACTICE

 

New codes of practice have been developed by the NSW Government which underpin some aspects of the regulation of activities under petroleum titles and in some instances mineral and coal titles in the State. The codes of practice include mandatory requirements which title holders must comply with or face possible fines or potential cancellation of their title. This page summarises each of the current three new codes of practice and provides links to each of the codes available online.

Overview

 

New codes of practice have been developed which support the regulation of specific activities undertaken under petroleum titles, and in some instances under mineral and coal titles in NSW.

 

The codes of practice impose enforceable mandatory requirements on title holders as well as providing related guidance about expected performance so explorers can comply with the codes.

 

Three new codes of practice are overviewed in this chapter. They are:

  • Exploration Code of Practice: Environmental Management;

  • Exploration Code of Practice: Produced Water Management, Storage and Transfer;

  • Exploration Code of Practice: Rehabilitation; and

  • Exploration Code of Practice: Community Consultation.

 

This chapter also provides links to each of the codes of practice available online.

 

Application of the codes

The codes of practice will be applied to all prospecting authorities and petroleum titles granted, renewed or transferred where the application was received after 1 July 2015. The codes will also be applied on renewal of any petroleum title after 1 July 2015.

 

Enforcement of the codes

The codes of practice will be enforced through conditions placed on titles.

 

For example, the new standardised instrument for the grant of a petroleum title issued by the NSW Government includes activity specific conditions including:

 

“The licence holder must comply with Part B of the Exploration Code of Practice: Environmental Management ... in connection with Activity [insert name of activity] to the extent that it duplicates or is consistent with an environment protection licence or the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997.”

 

If the title holder failed to comply with a condition of the title by not complying with the code of practice then the title holder would be committing an offence under section 378D of the Mining Act 1992 or of section 136A of the Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991. A breach of either of those sections could lead to a fine being imposed on the title holder.

 

A breach of one of the mandatory requirements of the codes by the title holder could also lead to cancellation of the title under section 125(1) (b1) of the Mining Act 1992 or of section 22 of the Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991.

 

Exploration Code of Practice: Environmental Management

 

It is essential that exploration for all resources is conducted with sound and ongoing environmental management practices to prevent, minimise (where prevention is not practical) harm or disruption to the environment.

 

Without adequate controls, exploration activities have the potential to cause impacts upon the environment.

 

These impacts must be assessed; controls must be implemented and evaluated for effectiveness; and the potential for impacts must be monitored.

 

Potential impacts will depend on the likely risk, type, scale and duration of exploration activities. Potential impacts may include:

  • mobilisation of pollutants in soils (such as hydrocarbons), surface water or aquifer;

  • adverse impacts on water quality and quantity, including from interception, cross contamination and depressurisation of groundwater systems;

  • unacceptable noise, air quality and visual impacts to nearby sensitive receivers such as residences;

  • fugitive emissions of gases or vapour from drilling operations and the operation of flares;

  • particulate emissions from engines and machinery;

  • soil erosion and sediment laden run-off from disturbed areas that could lead to soil or water contamination or land degradation;

  • acid drainage due to exposure of acid sulfate soils or sulfidic ores;

  • riverbed disturbance from use of poorly constructed or maintained river crossings;

  • spread of weeds, pest animals and animal/plant diseases;

  • disruption to livestock operations; and/or

  • damage to structures and sensitive features, such as places of Aboriginal significance, Aboriginal objects and items of heritage significance.[i]

 

The Exploration Code of Practice: Environmental Management sets out mandatory requirements and provides title holders with related guidance about ensuring that exploration manages and minimises risks to the environment.

 

Structure of the code of practice

The Exploration Code of Practice: Environmental Management is structured in four parts:

 

  • Part A: Introduction – contains the introductory text and an overview of the code of practice;

  • Part B: Environmental management – contains the mandatory requirements which title holders must comply with;

  • Appendix 1: Guideline – provides information to title holders on how they may achieve compliance with mandatory requirements;

  • Appendix 2: Interpretation and Definitions – defines terms used in the code of practice.

 

Part B: Environmental Management

Part B of the Exploration Code of Practice: Environmental Management sets out the mandatory requirements which title holders must comply with. These relate to:

  • use of chemicals, fuels and lubricants;

  • water;

  • noise and vibration;

  • air quality;

  • waste management;

  • vegetation clearing and surface disturbance;

  • roads and tracks;

  • weeds, pest animals and diseases;

  • livestock protection;

  • culture and heritage;

  • risk assessments; and

  • record keeping.

 

Appendix 1: Guidance

Appendix 1 provides information for title holders on how they may achieve compliance with the mandatory requirements contained in Part B of the code of practice.

 

Guidance in the appendix relates to:

  • use of chemicals, fuels and lubricants;

  • water;

  • noise and vibration;

  • works outside of standard working hours;

  • vibration and overpressure thresholds;

  • management of vibration and overpressure impacts;

  • air quality, including dust controls, dust thresholds and diesel emissions;

  • waste management;

  • vegetation clearing and surface disturbance, including fauna protection, threatened flora and fauna, steep slopes, sediment and erosion control, acid sulphate soils, and Biophysical Strategic Agricultural Land;

  • roads and tracks;

  • weeds, pest animals and diseases;

  • livestock protection;

  • culture and heritage, including Aboriginal heritage; and

  • risk assessments.

 

Where will I find a copy of the Exploration Code of Practice: Environmental Management?

The Exploration Code of Practice: Environmental Management is available to view or download online.

 

To view or download a copy of the Exploration Code of Practice: Environmental Management visit:

Exploration Code of Practice: Environmental Management

 

Exploration Code of Practice: Produced Water Management, Storage and Transfer
 

Activities involved in the exploration for petroleum, in particular, and sometimes in the exploration for minerals and coal, may result in the extraction of naturally occurring groundwater. This extracted groundwater is sometimes known as ‘produced water’.

 

Produced water can be highly variable in quality and can contain naturally occurring minerals including chloride, carbonates, bicarbonates, sodium and other metals as well as hydrocarbons.

 

These substances may cause harm to the environment in certain concentrations and untreated produced water may also adversely impact vegetation and soil structure.

 

The Exploration Code of Practice: Produced Water Management, Storage and Transfer sets out mandatory requirements on title holders in relation to the management of produced water and provides guidance about the expected performance for the management, storage and transfer of that water.

 

The code of practice does not cover the disposal of produced water which is dealt with separately.

 

Structure of the code of practice

The Exploration Code of Practice: Produced Water Management, Storage and Transfer is structured in five parts:

 

  • Part A: Introduction – contains the introductory text and an overview of the code of practice;

  • Part B: Produced water management – contains the mandatory requirements which title holders must comply with;

  • Appendix 1: Guidance – provides information to title holders on how they may achieve compliance with mandatory requirements;

  • Appendix 2: Additional information and considerations for various produced water storage containments types – contains information relating to the storage of produced water, for example, in relation of types of water tanks and pond linings; and

  • Appendix 3: Interpretation and Definitions – defines terms used in the code of practice.

 

Part B: Produced water management

Part B of the Exploration Code of Practice: Produced Water Management, Storage and Transfer sets out the mandatory requirements which title holders must comply with. These relate to:

  • the preparation of a Produced Water Management Plan;

  • the conduct of a risk assessment in the preparation of the Produced Water Management Plan;

  • requirements in relation to the storage of produced water;

  • the inclusion of a ‘Trigger Action Response Plan’ in the Produced Water Management Plan;

  • review of the Produced Water Management Plan; and

  • notification and reporting requirements.

 

Appendix 1: Guidance

Appendix 1 provides information for title holders on how they may achieve compliance with the mandatory requirements contained in Part B of the code of practice.

 

Guidance in the appendix relates to:

 

  • the preparation of a Produced Water Management Plan;

  • the assessment of environmental impacts;

  • the general information to be included in the Produced Water Management Plan;

  • the conduct of risk assessment in the preparation of the Produced Water Management Plan;

  • the storage of produced water;

  • types of storage containment;

  • design life of storage containment;

  • measures to prevent overfilling;

  • secondary containment;

  • leak detection;

  • considerations specific to storage ponds;

  • considerations specific to geomembranes;

  • pond security and safety requirements;

  • pipelines used to convey produced water; and

  • the preparation of a Trigger Action Response Plan.

 

Where will I find a copy of the Exploration Code of Practice: Produced Water Management, Storage and Transfer?

The Exploration Code of Practice: Produced Water Management, Storage and Transfer is available to view or download online.

 

To view or download a copy of the Exploration Code of Practice: Produced Water Management, Storage and Transfer visit:

Exploration Code of Practice: Produced Water Management, Storage and Transfer

 

Exploration Code of Practice: Rehabilitation

 

It is essential that rehabilitation is undertaken so that areas disturbed by exploration activities are returned to a condition that is safe and stable. The final condition should be as good or better than as it existed prior to exploration activities, or one that allows the proposed final land use(s) (developed in consultation with land holders) to be sustained.

 

To achieve this outcome, rehabilitation planning and practices must be integrated throughout all phases of an exploration program. However, as a first principle, title holders should aim to prevent or minimise (where prevention is not practicable) the extent of disturbance associated with exploration activities as a means to reduce the extent of rehabilitation required.

 

Exploration activities will cause disturbance to land and, while rehabilitation risks can be prevented or mitigated, without adequate rehabilitation planning and controls in place, there is a risk of degradation to both land capability and land use. This can leave landholders in a worse position than before exploration commenced.

 

 These risks must be assessed, controls must be planned for, implemented, and evaluated for their effectiveness, and the potential for risks must be monitored to actively and continuously manage rehabilitation performance during the term of a prospecting title.

 

These risks will depend on the likely type, scale and duration of exploration activities.

 

The Exploration Code of Practice: Rehabilitation sets out mandatory requirements on title holders in relation to expected performance to ensure that exploration is undertaken in a manner that manages and minimises risk and achieves sustainable rehabilitation outcomes.

 

Structure of the Code of Practice

The Exploration Code of Practice: Rehabilitation is structured in six parts:

 

  • Part A: Introduction – contains the introductory text and an overview of the code of practice;

  • Part B: Rehabilitation – contains the mandatory requirements which title holders must comply with;

  • Appendix 1: Guidance – provides information to title holders on how they may achieve compliance with mandatory requirements;

  • Appendix 2: Example rehabilitation objectives and completion criteria template – contains information on land use goals, rehabilitation objectives and completion criteria;

  • Appendix 3: Example rehabilitation program checklist – provides a checklist of rehabilitation activities at different stages of exploration;

  • Appendix 4: Interpretation and Definitions – defines terms used in the code of practice.

 

Part B: Rehabilitation

Part B of the Exploration Code of Practice: Rehabilitation sets out the mandatory requirements which title holders must comply with. These relate to:

 

  • risk assessment of rehabilitation threats and opportunities;

  • surface disturbance;

  • the development of a rehabilitation program; and

  • timing of rehabilitation.

     

Where will I find a copy of the Exploration Code of Practice: Rehabilitation?

The Exploration Code of Practice: Rehabilitation is available to view or download online.

 

To view or download a copy of the Exploration Code of Practice: Rehabilitation visit:

Exploration Code of Practice: Rehabilitation

 

Exploration Code of Practice: Community Consultation

 

Community consultation is an important part of exploration and directly the social responsibility element of the licensing process and often indirectly informs the ecologically sustainable development and wealth building in the community objectives as well.

 

This code serves two purposes, it provides information on how industry should conduct community consultation and sets out enforceable requirements relating to community consultation.

 

The aims of the code are to provide an honest and open dialogue between the title holder and the local community to assist in developing an informed working relationship.

 

The code looks at the concept of ‘social licence to operate’ through community consultation and enforces certain requirements to encourage this occurs and prevent the negative impacts on the community, government and titleholder should this social licence not occur.

 

Structure of the Code of Practice

The Exploration Code of Practice: Community Consultation is structured in six parts:

 

  • Part A: Introduction – contains the introductory text and an overview of the code of practice;

  • Part B: Community Consultation – contains the mandatory requirements which title holders must comply with;

  • Appendix 1: Guidance – provides information to title holders on how they may achieve compliance with mandatory requirements;

  • Appendix 2: Annual community consultation reporting – sets out the requirements for the titleholders annual report on community consultation;

  • Appendix 3: Notification requirements – sets out the requirements for public notification when title applicants make their application.

  • Appendix 4: Definitions – defines terms used in the code of practice.

 

Part B: Community Consultation

Part B of the Exploration Code of Practice: Community Consultation sets out the mandatory requirements which title holders must comply with. These relate to:

 

  • risk assessment of community consultation threats and opportunities;

  • preparation of a community consultation strategy

  • the community consultation strategy must:

  • establish objectives

  • identify stakeholders potentially impacted by the project and their relevant concerns;

  • describe how community consultation will be undertaken addressing a series of criteria;

  • set out a mechanism to review the strategy to ensure it meets the requirements of the code;

    • titleholder requirements to implement, review and report on its community consultation strategy; and

    • maintenance of records.

 

Where will I find a copy of the Exploration Code of Practice: Community Consultation?

The Exploration Code of Practice: Rehabilitation is available to view or download online.

 

To view or download a copy of the Exploration Code of Practice: Community Consultation visit:

Exploration Code of Practice: Community Consultation

 

[i] NSW Government Code of Practice: Environmental Management  (July 2015).

 

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