Who is responsible — government response to unlawful sand mining?

I  have received the following response (below) from Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI) to my questions about Unlawful Straddie sand miner plays Mining and Energy (DEEDI) off against Environment and Resource Management (DERM).

Similar questions were sent to Environment and Resource Management (DERM).

No response or acknowledgement has been received from DERM .

Ian Curr

September 2010

Re: Unimin and North Stradbroke Island mining

Mr Curr

Attached is a response to the questions* you submitted to this department.

The following comments can be attributed to a spokesman for the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI).

Matters relating to the operations of Unimin Australia Limited on North Stradbroke Island are the subject of current court proceedings so it would be inappropriate to comment specifically about this company.

In general, applications for the grant or renewal of all mining tenures are considered by the Queensland Government through the provisions of the Mineral Resources Act 1989.

All tenure applications must undergo thorough assessments relating to potential environmental and social impacts, native title, technical and commercial viability, and safety and health issues. Public comment is invited and objections can be made at various stages of these assessments.

There are 33 granted mining leases on North Stradbroke Island (NSI).

The terms of the 33 mining leases have expiry dates between 2008 and 2027.

However, the Mineral Resources Act 1989 provides for the holder of a mining lease to lodge a renewal application prior to the expiry of the current term.

The 18 mining leases on NSI which fall into this category have complied with this requirement. Under the legislation, these leases remain current, with all granted conditions and entitlements, until a decision is made on the renewal applications.

Consistent with the Queensland Governments announced policy to phase out all sand mining on North Stradbroke Island by 2027, no decisions have been made on the renewal of these leases.

Pursuant to section 286C (2) of the Mineral Resources Act 1989: The lease continues in force subject to the rights, entitlements and obligations in effect immediately before the end of the expiry day until the application is withdrawn, refused or granted.

The Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation administers royalties on all mineral and petroleum resources; including mineral sands and silica sand.

For mineral sands the royalty payable is based on 5% of the value of the mineral sands. For silica sands the rate payable is $0.90 per tonne.

The Mineral Resources Act 1989 requires that the holder of a mining lease or mining claim lodge a royalty return and any royalty payable at least annually for all leases and claims held, even if no production took place. Larger producers are required to pay royalty on a quarterly basis, while smaller producers generally pay royalty on an annual basis.

Systems are in place to ensure royalties are paid on time and royalty returns are periodically audited by the department.

Paul Lynch

Media ManagerMines and Energy

Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation

Level 4, 61 Mary Street Brisbane

(work): 07 3404 8012

(mob):0488719728

Email: Paul.Lynch@deedi.qld.gov.au

Business Information Centre 13 25 23

www.deedi.qld.gov.au

* My questions specifically concern the operations of Unimin Australia Limited (and its subsidiaries) on North Stradbroke Island:

1. Who is responsible for issuing mining leases for the extraction of silica, rutile and non-mineral sand?

2. What mining leases have expired and who is responsible for renewing expired leases?

3. Which expired leases currently held are to be renewed (if any)?

4. What criteria are used in the issuing of those licences for the extraction of silica, rutile and non-mineral sand?

5. Who is responsible for making sure the licences are adhered to i.e. that low grade silica is not extracted under the pretext that it is a mineral? What inspections are carried out, by whom and how often?

6. Who is responsible for collecting the sand mining royalties and what are the current royalty rates for the extraction of silica, rutile and non-mineral sand?

7. Who makes sure the payments are correct and are paid on time?

8. Who waives interest charges on unpaid royalties and what criteria are used to waiver of such charges?

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