Legacy mines

Mining has been an important industry for the Northern Territory for more than 150 years.

Mining that occurred many years ago may not have been remediated to the high environmental standards we expect today.

The NT Government (NTG) introduced new legislation in 2001 that required mining operators to pay securities. The purpose of the security is to cover costs if the NTG has to take action to address harm or to remediate mining sites.

As of 2013, an annual 1% levy on securities also applies to help address the impacts of legacy mining.

Read more about legacy mines below or find out about the Legacy Mines Unit and their current legacy projects.

Types and impacts

Legacy mines (also known as unsecured mining activities) can arise where mining activities occurred:

  • before the requirement to pay a security or the security has been expended or
  • where a mining title has been relinquished.

They can range from isolated mine workings like an open shaft to complex mines with waste rock dumps and tailings dams.

There can also be legacy mine features within active mine sites that are not the responsibility of the new mining operator.

Legacy mines can cause:

  • public hazards such as:
    • safety risks from open workings or pits
    • infrastructure that is often degraded
  • environmental impacts including:
    • acid metalliferous drainage
    • poor water quality
    • erosion
    • weed infestation.

It is in the interest of the mining sector to see legacy issues addressed, as their continuing presence:

  • may have adverse impacts on the environment
  • can reinforce community opposition to mining, especially when new developments are being proposed.
While there may be a large number of legacy mines, most are old workings and few are large complex sites.

Last updated: 31 March 2022

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