Law School

Pilbara iron ore mine dewatering


Further Information

Regulating adverse effects of mining and unconventional gas production on groundwater and associated environmental values

Natalie is researching whether the current regulatory regime effectively and sustainably manages mining and petroleum industries’ effects on groundwater resources in Australia. 

Advances in engineering and the resources boom have initiated enormous growth in the Australian mining and gas production industries (Resource Industries) in the past decade.  Many new or expanded large-scale projects extract resources below the water table, which can interfere with groundwater resources. The key questions addressed in this research are cumulative effects and legacy issues.  The Resource Industries and the responsible government departments must endeavour to create suitable cumulative water management plans and methodologies that adequately address the proponents’ contribution to current cumulative effects, and closure plans that address the proponents’ contribution to long-term responsibility for mitigation and liability. 

The research focuses on selected Resource Industries in Australia, particularly the mining of coal and iron-ore, and the production of unconventional gas.  Additionally, the research proposes to compare similar regulatory regimes in other jurisdictions, such as Athabasca oil sands mining in Alberta Canada, coal seam gas in the northern United States of America, and Norway’s approach to resource development impacts on environmental values. 

This research is funded by the National Centre for Ground Water Research and Training and the University of Western Australia Centre for Mining, Energy and Natural Resources Law.