Working with the Northern Territory Government

The Northern Territory Department of Resources (DoR) regulates uranium mining activities in the Northern Territory under its own legislation such as the Mining Management Act 2001. However, under the Environment Protection (Alligator Rivers Region) Act 1978, a function of the Supervising Scientist is to coordinate and supervise the implementation of laws relevant to environmental aspects of uranium mining in the Alligator Rivers Region. Those laws include laws of the Northern Territory.

Mechanisms have been established in legislation and in Working Arrangements agreed between the Commonwealth and the Northern Territory to determine how the Supervising Scientist and DoR interact. The basis for those mechanisms is that the Northern Territory Government is responsible for the day to day regulation of uranium mines in the Alligator Rivers Region whereas the Supervising Scientist's focus is on environmental outcomes.

These mechanisms allow the Supervising Scientist to participate in the regulatory processes of DoR. All applications made by uranium mining companies in the Alligator Rivers Region for approvals issued under the Mining Management Act are forwarded to the Supervising Scientist for advice. They are also forwarded to the Northern Land Council (NLC), representing local Aboriginal people, for comment. The NT Government must ‘take affect’ to the advice of the Supervising Scientist and consider the NLC comments in its assessment of the application. Additionally, DoR and the NLC participate in the Environmental Audit and Routine Inspection programs undertaken by the Supervising Scientist.

There is a Minesite Technical Committee (MTC) for each uranium mine in the Alligator Rivers Region consisting of representatives of the mining company, the Supervising Scientist, the NLC and DoR. The role of each MTC is to resolve mine related technical issues in order to ensure the protection of the environment.