New moves to streamline Government procedures and increase environmental monitoring for many of the State's 100 gold treatment plants and tailings dams were announced today by Mines Minister Gordon Hill and Environment Minister Bob Pearce.
The moves will help to improve environmental compliance by gold treatment plants, heap/vat leach operations and tailings dams.
The Ministers said that from October 1, 1992, the system of works approvals and pollution licences which imposed operational conditions to protect the environment would - for most gold operations - now not be required.
Instead, the conditions normally attached to the licences would be incorporated as conditions imposed on tenements by the Mines Minister.
Officers of the Department of Minerals and Energy would inspect the sites regularly to ensure that all environmental protection conditions were complied with.
Failure to comply may result in fines, the requirements being revised, or in forfeiture of the tenement.
"This change results from a recognition by both agencies that the Department of Minerals and Energy is the appropriate authority to ensure this sector of the mining industry operates in an environmentally responsible way," Mr Hill said.
"The department's environmental officers already assess the environmental impact of a range of proposed mining operations and impose conditions to protect the environment.
"Sites are inspected regularly to ensure compliance with these conditions.
"From October 1, the responsibilities of the environmental officers carrying out the inspections has been expanded to include those aspects previously monitored by the Environmental Protection Authority."
Mr Pearce applauded the change.
"It expands the responsibilities of the department's environmental officers, which will allow more frequent inspections without the use of additional resources," he said.
"This will result in a more effective and efficient use of Government resources and reduce duplication."
Mr Pearce said plant operations less than three kilometres from dwellings, in sensitive water resource areas, or adjacent to areas of conservation estate would still require EPA approval.