The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) on 19 May 2023 published a notice in the Government Gazette calling for submissions on their intention to extend the transitional arrangements applicable to existing mining rights and permit holders under regulation 17B of the Financial Provisioning Regulations, 2015 (published in terms of the National Environmental Management Act) (Financial Provisioning Regulations) by a further five months.
This will allow mining rights and permit holders who obtained their rights or permits prior to 20 November 2015 (when the Financial Provisioning Regulations came into force) until 19 February 2024 to comply with the Financial Provisioning Regulations. The proposed five month extension will align with the compliance deadline which is currently in place for the oil and gas industry, and will be the sixth time such deadline for compliance by historical mining rights and permit holders has been pushed forward (with one additional carve out extension for the oil and gas industry taking place in 2018).
The proposed extension follows numerous stakeholder workshops which have taken place over a number of years, and ahead of the anticipated publication of amended regulations which will replace the current Financial Provisioning Regulations in their entirety. New mining entrants have had to comply with the Financial Provisioning Regulations since their publication in 2015, while existing mining rights and permit holders are regarded as being in compliance until the end of the transitional period, which has now lasted over seven years and is currently set to end on 18 September 2023. Given that the latest proposed extension is only five months (rather than a year or more, as in previous extensions), this may herald the imminent publication of the proposed replacement legislation, which will bring an end to the misalignment between new entrants and existing mining rights and permit holders.
The public are invited to submit comments on the proposed extension within 30 days, which period ends on 19 June 2023.