The Earth Resources Regulation Branch of the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources is responsible for regulating the minerals, extractive, petroleum, pipeline and geothermal industries in Victoria. This includes offshore waters to three nautical miles from the state's coastline.
Earth Resources Regulation ensures that companies comply with their legal obligations through inspections and enforcement operations.
What regulations and legislation apply?
Earth Resources Regulation regulates coal seam gas under the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990 (MRSDA) and tight, shale and conventional gas under the Petroleum Act 1998.
Mineral and petroleum exploration and development in Victoria are also subject to other Acts, including:
- Water Act 1989
- Native Title Act 1993
- Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006
- Planning and Environment Act 1987
- Environmental Effects Act 1978
- Environment Protection Act 1978
- Federal Government's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999
These Acts, along with other legislation, codes of practice and operational guidelines provide safeguards to ensure that:
- Adverse impacts on water resources are minimised
- Resources are developed in ways that minimise adverse impacts on the environment and the community.
- Community consultation is effective with appropriate access to information.
- Compensation is required for the use of private land for exploration or mining.
- Conditions in licences and approvals are enforced.
- Land that has been mined is rehabilitated.
- Dispute resolution processes are effective.
Minerals, including coal seam gas
Earth Resources Regulation grants exploration and mining licences and sets conditions to ensure compliance with Victorian regulations.
Exploration and mining activities are regulated through an approved work plan. The work plan details the activities to be carried out on the site and how the surrounding environment must be protected. An exploration work plan includes descriptions of the work to be carried out, how the site is to be rehabilitated, consultation arrangements, and how the site will be monitored, including details of environmental monitoring.
A mining work plan is more detailed and includes geological information, rehabilitation plan, environmental monitoring plan and a community engagement plan.
A work plan is subject to enforcement action by Earth Resources Regulation and other regulatory agencies such as the Environment Protection Authority (EPA). Licenced sites are regularly inspected to ensure that the commitments set out in the work plan are being met and enforcement action is undertaken where required.
Tight, shale and conventional gas
Earth Resources Regulation regulates onshore petroleum exploration and development activities, including shale, tight and conventional gas. It manages licensing, consents, approvals and other issues such as consultation, rehabilitation, royalties and enforcement.
Once a petroleum licence is granted, the holder cannot undertake work until an operations plan is submitted and approved. The operations plan addresses the proposed activities, risk assessments and management commitments, well operations plans (where relevant) and environmental management plans that include consultation.
Under the Mineral Resources Sustainable Development Act and Petroleum Act, exploration or production cannot be carried out on private land unless compensation has been agreed with the landowner or settled through Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Status of onshore gas exploration and production in Victoria
A hold on hydraulic fracturing, exploration drilling and the granting of new exploration licences for all types of onshore gas is in place. A ban on the addition of BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene) chemicals in hydraulic fracturing fluids, has been legislated.