1 October Government support for a gas-led COVID-19 recovery October 1, 2020 By Sally Parker General, Industry, Oil and Gas Industry, Gas, COVID-19 0 Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently announced a gas-led recovery to the economic recession brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. A key part of the government’s JobMaker plan, the government expects the industry to create over 4,000 jobs. Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently announced a gas-led recovery to the economic recession brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. A key part of the government’s JobMaker plan, the government expects the industry to create over 4,000 jobs. With AGL set to close the Liddell Power Station in 2023, the issue of supply is also top of mind. Part of the government’s plan is to establish a National Gas Infrastructure Plan to identify priority pipelines and critical infrastructure. The government has indicated that it may even step in where the private sector doesn’t, with the Prime Minister stating that the government will build a 1,000 megawatt power station in the Hunter Valley in the absence of private investment. The government plans to increase gas supplies in the market by: ● Setting supply target requirements on gas licenses; ● Opening up five gas basins including Beetaloo Basin in the Northern Territory and the North Bowen and Galilee Basin in Queensland; ● Putting in place new agreements with east cost LNG exporters to avoid supply shortfalls; ● Exploring options for a prospective gas reservation scheme; ● Increasing competition and transparency by reforming regulations on pipeline infrastructure; ● Improving access and competition by commencing work on a dynamic secondary pipeline capacity market; ● Establishing an Australian Gas Hub to enable a transparent gas trading system; ● Introduce a voluntary industry-led code of conduct by February 2021; and ● With the ACCC, reviewing the calculation of the LNG netback price. Domestic gas prices are key to the reforms - it’s estimated that domestic prices are 25% higher than international export prices. With gas prices falling, the government can promise voters lower prices while enabling manufacturing. Delivering affordable and reliable gas forms the basis for the government’s plan to fuel the economy. The government’s plans are not without their critics. Tech entrepreneur Michael Cannon-Brookes, favours renewable energy like wind and solar. Rather than relying on gas to fuel manufacturing, he has pushed for a green jobs plan. His plan isn’t at odds with estimates made by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). AEMO has indicated that gas is likely to be less affordable than other forms of energy like batteries and hydro or demand response programs. Labor spokesperson Mark Butler, has argued that renewable energy could create even more jobs - over 50,000. A view echoed by Independent MP, Zali Steggall who also believes renewables should be included in the government’s plans. The issue with renewables is that they can’t yet provide stable energy supply that gas can deliver. The announcement was closely followed by an additional $1.9 billion technology investment, that included enabling the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to keep operating. ARENA would also issue clean technology grants hub, funding technologies like carbon capture use and storage. At present, detail about these initiatives is limited, but we can expect further information and possibly more commitment to the industry in the Federal budget to be delivered on 6 October. Related Articles Submission - DISER Consultation Paper December 2020 ‘Enhancing Australia’s decommissioning framework for offshore oil and gas activities’ A gas-led recovery is on the way The COVID-19 pandemic hit the Australian economy hard. In the March and June quarters of 2020, GDP plunged 7.3%, placing the country into recession. While the economy has since partially rebounded, the government has developed a long term plan for a gas-fired recovery. The economic benefits could be significant. A recent Ernst & Young report found that the oil and gas industry could boost the economy by over $350 billion and create 220,000 new jobs over the next 20 years if key projects are supported. This will be delivered across three key areas. Of the measures outlined, some are well on the way with others yet to come. Energy industry and government response to COVID-19 In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, government and industry have come together to ensure the community, economy and industry are supported. The Council of Australian Governments Energy Council (COAG Energy Council) has formed the Energy Coordination Mechanism (ECM) which is expected to have a complete plan by the end of April. The immediate focus of these efforts has been on four areas COMMUNITY LEGAL RIGHTS IN MINE CLOSURE PLANNING; A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF THREE AUSTRALIAN STATES Professor Alex Gardner, University of Western Australia Law School, and Laura Hamblin, formerly research associate at the UWA Law School, 2021 Why does the Mining Act 1978 (WA) not provide secure legal rights for community consultation in relation to mining lease proposals and mine closure plans? Addressing this question presents an important theme for this comparative review of some core features of the regulatory frameworks for mine closure in three Australian States. It also raises important questions for future legal research. Western Australia, Queensland and Victoria have prominent but vastly different, and thus uniquely significant, mining industries. Western Australia’s mining industry has a long history of large and smaller scale mining of a diverse range of minerals by various methods that pose significant mine rehabilitation challenges.[i] Queensland’s mining industry is similarly large and diverse, dominated by export coal production, and planning future minerals development in a decarbonising world.[ii] Victoria has a smaller mining industry with a large historical legacy dominated by a coal mining industry for domestic electricity generation in the Latrobe Valley, which is closing as the State actively transitions to renewable power sources.[iii] These States also have significant differences in the regulation of their mining industries. What all three States do have in common is the significance of their mining industries to both the State economy and the communities who depend on or live near mining operations. Importantly, all three States are confronting large legal and regulatory challenges in managing mine rehabilitation and closure. The key to addressing these challenges is effective mine closure planning: the closure of a mine site has ripple effects that are not merely environmental and economic, but social and cultural too. The initial approval of a mine closure plan occurs before any mining has begun and, with the life cycle of a mine often spanning decades, regulatory bodies are approving hypothetical closure scenarios, potentially subject to vast changes. Regulatory bodies may then seek to enforce closure requirements enshrined in a plan that may wane in relevance as mining operations progress, the updating of which may depend on the miner. Yet remedying the regulatory system so that it creates adaptable but consistently effective mine closure outcomes for affected communities still begins at planning. Although that planning is an iterative process across the life of the mine, it is very important at the initial stage of approval. Recent legislative reforms in all three States are adding to the regulatory rigour and adaptability of mine closure planning, though there are very different legal requirements for community consultation. This article aims to explain and assess the regulatory reforms by undertaking a comparative analysis of mine closure planning across Western Australia, Queensland and Victoria, with a focus on the initial approval stage and how stakeholders and communities are brought into that process. The facilitation of continuous and comprehensive community engagement is critical to ensuring that mine closure planning accounts for environmental, economic, social, cultural and safety outcomes after mine closure, but it has not been possible to consider here the process of ongoing mine closure planning, especially for amending mine closure plans and determining satisfaction of mine closure plans leading to resource tenure relinquishment.[iv] The article begins by considering core concepts of mine closure planning and the regulatory goals that inform it. It then provides a comparative overview of each State’s mine closure planning requirements under the mineral resources, environmental and land use planning laws and draws out some of the different regulatory structures and processes for mine closure within each State. The third step in our analysis compares the ways in which those laws provide for local communities’ participation in mine closure planning, with specific attention to whether the regulatory provisions create legally enforceable rights for effective community engagement. The article concludes with a summary of the key points from the discussion of three themes in our analysis: (i) the importance of clear definitions of core concepts and key goals, (ii) mine closure planning as an essential part of a mining proposal, and (iii) the legal definition of community engagement and consultation rights. Mine closure planning and implementation is necessarily influenced by many other spheres of law including taxation law, investment law, water law, and the rights of traditional owners, to name a few. A potentially directly relevant Commonwealth law is the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth), which may require environmental impact assessment of a mining proposal and closure plan and lead to approval conditions supplementing State requirements.[v] Whilst acknowledging the importance of these adjacent spheres of the regulatory frameworks for effective mine closure planning, this article does not attempt to address their impact. In particular, the rights of Traditional Custodians are a crucial part of mine closure planning that are only briefly noted here and that would benefit from future research. WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety, Major Commodities Review 2022-23”. Qld Government, Department of Resources, Queensland Resources Industry Development Plan, June 022. Vic Government, Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, Latrobe Valley Regional Rehabilitation Strategy. See L Hamblin, A Gardner, Y Haigh, Mapping the Regulatory Framework of Mine Closure, May 2022, CRC TiME, for a broader exploration of the full life cycle of mine closure regulation. In Buzzacott v Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities  FCAFC 111; (2013) 214 FCR 301, , -, referring to the range of approval conditions, which included mine closure. In setting conditions under the EPBC Act, the Commonwealth Minister must consider any relevant conditions under State or Territory law: at  citing Lansen v Minister for Environment and Heritage (2008) 174 FCR 14. How your organisation can benefit from government incentives now Eager to support business and protect jobs, governments at all levels have introduced measures and benefits for businesses. While there are many general benefits, like JobKeeper, that have been offered to many businesses, state governments are now offering opportunities to benefit specific industries and sectors including energy and resources. How COVID-19 could change mining for the better The mining industry was deemed an essential service by the Government, which has enabled it to continue to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this hasn’t been without its challenges. New processes and procedures were required to address safety and social distancing and issues of supply and worker mobility have impacted how the industry operates. But with adversity comes opportunity and the mining industry has thrived and realised the potential for new improvements amidst the pandemic. Showing 0 Comment Comments are closed.