The key environmental law issues for resources and energy projects are threefold and represent the stages of the project. They are front-end approvals under state and federal regimes and new approvals during the life of project when expansions or changes to the project occurs; compliance issues and incidents and prosecutions during operations; and lastly environmental considerations and contamination management with respect to care and maintenance, closure and rehabilitation and re-use.
Environmental protection and management is an area of increasing interest to government and civil society organisations. Environmental law requirements are contained in State and national laws but also in operation-specific policies and contracts and minimum standards and procedures. International environmental standards also arise in particular situations, like the World Bank’s Performance Standards on Environmental and Social Sustainability and the private-bank analogue Equator Principles III. Others international processes have more general application, with the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises now enabling complaints by any party in relation to the environmental impacts from resources operations of companies operating or registered in Australia, Canada, the UK, USA and many other countries.