Mining & mineral processing
The Radiation Protection and Control Act (1982) (RPC Act) applies to mining and mineral processing operations that have the potential to produce significant occupational radiation exposures, or which generate wastes having the potential to cause a significant increase in the radiological exposure to people and the environment.
These operations broadly include:
- the mining and processing of ore for the production of uranium or thorium concentrates
- the separation of heavy minerals from mineral sands ore
- the mining and processing of other minerals that contain small quantities of uranium, thorium or their decay products
- processes that lead to the production of commodities, by-products, residues or wastes not normally considered radioactive, but that contain naturally occurring radionuclides.
Operations in (3) and (4) above are often referred to as NORM operations. These operations involve substances containing naturally occurring radioactive materials that are of sufficient levels to be radiologically significant.
EPA regulation of mining and mineral processing
These operations are currently either licensed or registered under the RPC Act. Conditions attached to the licence or registration require the licensee to ensure the operations are conducted in a manner that protects people and the environment from the harmful effects of ionising radiation.
EPA regulation of these operations involves authorisations and approvals of the main stages of the operation, audits to determine compliance with approved management plans, and routine and incident reporting by the operators.
The EPA has a series of radiation protection guidelines on mining in SA.
- Radiation protection guidelines on mining in South Australia: Mineral exploration, February 2010
- Guidelines for miners: tailings and tailings storage facilities in South Australia, September 2009