Welcome to the first digital edition of the Department for Energy and Mining (DEM) mineral resources regulation annual report.

In this reporting period, the department saw an increase in exploration application volumes, a strong sign of improved sentiment and investment in the sector. Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show significant growth in exploration in South Australia, with the FY total at $122.3 million, up 34% from $91 million the previous year.

Reported mineral production royalties for 2021–22 was $240 million, up from last year’s $237 million, an additional benefit for state improvement. The department completed 96 program approvals for the year across mineral exploration and mining, each providing a framework for the efficient and effective regulation of new exploration, quarrying and mining activity.

DEM is committed to improving the effectiveness and efficiency of its assessment program for better regulatory quality and environmental protection. This year the department introduced a webpage listing all approved programs, including programs for environment protection and rehabilitation (PEPRs) and mine operations plans (MOPS), making it easy to download approval letters and related documents. The department published a suite of guidance material, and is also implementing a program to improve the Mining Register publication and transparency processes.

In addition, DEM completed lean reviews of its key regulatory processes and finalised the business case for a new digital mining and exploration regulation system and industry portal. These improvement are expected to generate significant efficiency gains across DEM's regulatory functions from 2023.

The recently introduced defined impact template for small scale quarrying applications has resulted in an average 128-day application assessment time and 69-day PEPR assessment time, significantly below their respective 180- and 90-day targets. The template has now been expanded to include industrial mineral operations and new activities such as blasting.

In 2021–22, the department:

  • conducted 338 mining inspections
  • held 13 community consultation meetings
  • issued nine environment and compliance directions and orders
  • issued 20 formal letters of non-compliance
  • undertook 13 inspections of potential unauthorised activity.