The Supervising Scientist provides regulatory oversight of uranium mining and exploration activities in the Alligator Rivers Region (ARR). This oversight includes:
- The assessment of mining and rehabilitation plans, reports and applications made under the Northern Territory Mining Management Act.
- Site inspections and environmental audits of active and rehabilitated mining and exploration sites throughout the ARR including the Ranger mine operated by ERA.
- Undertaking investigations into mining related environmental incidents within the ARR.
- Participation in stakeholder consultative forums such as the Mine Site Technical Committees (MTC) and the Alligator Rivers Region Advisory Council (ARRAC).
Through these oversight activities, the Supervising Scientist Branch (SSB) and other stakeholders are able to ensure that the environment of the ARR remains protected and mining activities remain in compliance with the relevant Environmental Requirements (ERs).
Minesite Technical Committees
Minesite Technical Committees (MTC) have been established for the Ranger, Jabiluka and Nabarlek mineral leases. The MTC meetings provide a forum for stakeholders, including the Supervising Scientist, to discuss technical environmental management matters including oversight activities such as assessments, inspections and audits. The meetings are made up of representatives from SSB, the NT Department of Primary Industry and Resources (DPIR), the Northern Land Council (NLC) and the relevant mining company. Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (GAC) represent the Mirarr Traditional Owners on the Ranger and Jabiluka MTCs. Other organisations or experts may be invited as required to assist MTC members.
Environmental Audits and mine site inspections
In consultation with the applicable MTC members, SSB has developed and implemented a program of inspections and environmental audits at Ranger, Jabiluka and Nabarlek. The SSB also participates in inspections and audits of other exploration activities in the wider ARR.
Routine Periodic Inspections (RPI) take place monthly at Ranger and twice a year (pre- and post-wet season) at Jabiluka, and are intended to provide a snapshot of environmental management as well as an opportunity for the inspection team to discuss environmental management issues with staff on site. These discussions include any unplanned events or reportable incidents and any associated follow-up actions. The inspection team is made up of representatives from SSB, DPIR and the NLC.
Environmental audits are conducted by a team of qualified audit staff from SSB, DPIR and the NLC. The Ranger audit program is designed to cover all major aspects of environmental management relevant to current activities on site. Outcomes from the environmental audits and RPIs are reported at routine Alligator Rivers Region Advisory Committee (ARRAC) meetings and in the SSB Annual Technical Reports.
Supervising Scientist staff member
Assessment of reports, plans and applications
There are Environmental Requirements (ERs) stipulated by the Commonwealth for each uranium mine in the Alligator Rivers Region. These ERs are the primary criteria SSB use to assess the performance of, and proposals put forth by, mining companies.
The Authorisations for the Ranger mine and the Jabiluka project are issued under the Northern Territory Mining Management Act and are essentially the same as those operating under the previous Uranium Mining (Environment Control) Act 1979. The Mining Management Act provides for alterations to the Authorisation to be issued by the Northern Territory Government and requires that ERA seeks approval for certain activities (outside of those approved in the current Authorisation) from DPIR. The Memorandum of Understanding between the Commonwealth and NT Governments in relation to this matter requires that SSB provides advice on any environmental aspects of an application, and that DPIR gives effect to this advice in finalising the approval to the mining company. This is our primary involvement in the regulatory processes of the Northern Territory Government.