Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act

Last updated: 21 August 2023

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC) provides a legal framework at the federal level to protect and manage matters of national environmental significance. The EPBC sets out the circumstances in which a mining project may need to be referred to the federal government and the requirements for having the impacts on those specified matters assessed, evaluated and approved.

The EPBC legislation applies to any activity that is likely to have a significant impact on identified matters of national significance, including mining or exploration activities. 
Subdivision E covers protection of the environment from nuclear actions including mining and milling or uranium ore. These activities are subject to environmental standards set forth in the legislation and potential penalties.

Subsection FB sets standards for water resources protection in coal seam gas development or large coal mining operations. 
The Australian Government has released its Response to the mandated 10-yearly independent review of the EPBC Act, most recently completed in 2020. At a state level, relevant legislation includes Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (NSW), Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, Mining Act 1978 (WA), Mining Regulations 1981 (WA), Mining Rehabilitation Fund Regulations 2013 (WA), Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990 (Vic), Mineral Resources Development Act 1995 (Tas), and others. 

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