From 1 July 2015, reforms under the Improved Management of Exploration Regulation (IMER) were phased in. IMER offers a complete overhaul of NSW exploration regulation, with tough new streamlined rules across all types of exploration activities.

The reforms promote stronger accountability for industry, as well as the use of innovation and best practice to meet risk-based requirements. Most importantly, they offer the community greater clarity and confidence in the regulation of the sector.

The adoption of a risk-based regulatory framework is part of the NSW Government's Quality Regulatory Services initiative and brings NSW into line with governments in other states and overseas that have shifted to risk-based frameworks, particularly in the areas of exploration, mining and environmental protection.

Key components of the reforms include:

  • The replacement of 158 conditions across petroleum, coal and minerals by some 13 new conditions that will apply to all activities undertaken under a licence and at all times (there are no dormant conditions).
  • Work programs now cover not only pure exploration activities (i.e. prospecting operations), but also environmental management, rehabilitation and community consultation.
  • New Codes of Practice that will support the regulation of specific activities and impose enforceable mandatory requirements. Where there is a higher risk, prescriptive regulation will be applied.

Codes and guidelines introduced to date as part of IMER include: