Skills for Land Rehabilitation (Mined Land)

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Case for change

Recent mine closures, especially across Northern Australia, have highlighted a skills gap in the current AHC qualifications for adequately training people to work effectively to rehabilitate closed mines. Generally, mining companies are required by legislation, regulation or operating/licensing agreements to rehabilitate the land they use after mine closure, ideally doing so progressively during the lifecycle of the mine site.

Large mining companies engage environmental and rehabilitation specialists and advisors, which may be supervised by university educated environmental engineers. However, the skills needed by field workers performing the rehabilitation tasks are best supported through the VET system, as they build on skills already contained within it. This includes dozer seeding, drainage work, dam cleaning, sediment fencing, and irrigation supply, as well as ongoing monitoring, remediation and reporting services that are necessary as part of state and federal regulations.

This project is an opportunity for determining best practices for current and future mine site rehabilitation in Australia in collaboration with multiple stakeholders.

The Australian Industry Skills Committee (AISC) approved this project, out of the Annual Update IRC Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work 2020.

Skills Impact and the Amenity Horticulture, Landscaping, Conservation and Land Management Industry Reference Committee (IRC) will oversee this project, consistent with the 2012 Standards for Training Package Development.

Download Project Proposal (see page 74)

Register your interest in the project

Subscribe to the Skills Impact newsletter to keep informed about project updates and opportunities to provide input and feedback. Make sure to select ‘Agriculture, Horticulture, Conservation and Land Management’ as your industry of interest.

Project Plan

Conserving and managing Australia’s many unique ecosystems requires specialist skill and knowledge. While these skills are generally applicable to a range of geographically diverse natural locations, additional expertise is required to rehabilitate land after it has been used for mining. With over 350 operating mines and mineral deposits across Australia, it is vital that the skills to restore mined land to a safe, stable environment are supported and accessible. Consultation with industry will take place throughout this project to define the hands-on skills required to carry out work for the reclamation of mined land in national skills standards.

There are many complexities to restoring mined lands that do not apply to other environments. Skills are needed to re-establish native ecosystems and groundwater systems. Specific skills and knowledge are required to work with topsoil that has been depleted of nutrients, to manage the presence of chemicals and heavy metals, and consider structural hazards both above and below ground. Restoring mined land will often require multiple inputs, which can include efforts from environmental advisors working on a mine site, field workers carrying out conservation work, through to seed producers creating seeds that can survive in a land depleted of nutrients.

In 2019, Skills Impact, undertook a project to update national qualifications and skills standards for conservation and ecosystem management. This project will build on that work, addressing the need for niche skills in rehabilitating mined land. Consideration will be given to the fact that the hands-on work to restore mined lands is increasingly undertaken by Indigenous rangers and other community members on Aboriginal lands. It is vital that these skills are supported, so that once mining activity is finished, land can be restored to a more natural state.

Project Scope

This project will address the need for national skills standards for the rehabilitation of mined lands. It may result in a specialisation stream within a current conservation and land management qualification and the development of skill sets. Existing units from multiple training packages will be utilised, including recently updated units for conservation and ecosystem management. New units will be developed where gaps are identified.

Register your interest in the project

Subscribe to the Skills Impact newsletter to keep informed about project updates and opportunities to provide input and feedback. Make sure to select ‘Agriculture, Horticulture, Conservation and Land Management’ as your industry of interest.

Relevant Occupations
  • Natural resource managers
  • Machinery operators
  • Land surveyors
  • Field workers
  • Soil, water, air dust noise samplers/testers
  • Ecologists
  • Bush regenerators
  • Native seed collectors
  • Wildlife carers and managers

Timeline

September/October 2020
Initial scoping

November/December 2020
Development of draft qualifications, skill sets and units

January/February 2021
Drafts available for broad consultation

April/May 2021
Validation of final drafts

June2021
Finalisation of Training Package components

July/August 2021

Independent Quality Assurance, and Edit and Equity review of Training Package components

September 2021
IRC consideration for sign-off and submission for endorsement

 

Project Team
Will HendersonIndustry Skills Standards Specialist, Skills Impactwhenderson@skillsimpact.com.au
Michelle Ingley-SmithIndustry Engagement Manager, Skills Impactmichelle@skillsimpact.com.au
Cathy BevenIndustry Skills Standards Specialist, Skills Impact
Opportunities for stakeholder input

Stakeholder input is appreciated throughout the duration of this project. The documents will be drafted in consultation with Subject Matter Experts (SME) and their networks. Opportunities to provide targeted feedback will occur when the draft materials are made available in January/February 2021, and again for validation of final drafts in April/May 2021. However, your feedback is welcomed at any time, and will help us in drafting the qualifications, skill set and units.

It is important that training provides a skilled and flexible workforce for the future. The qualifications, skill sets, and units need to reflect real work experience. So, if you work in the sector, Skills Impact would love your input and assistance.

Those working in rehabilitation of mined land and others with knowledge in this field who can describe the skills and qualifications needed for this industry are invited to engage with this project.

Please register your interest in project updates and consultation opportunities by following the newsletter subscription link. Alternatively, contact the project manager, Will Henderson on 0424068319 or whenderson@skillsimpact.com.au.

N.B. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Webinars will be held to replace the face-to-face consultation workshops Skills Impact would usually host around Australia.

Stakeholder Consultation Process

A list of key stakeholder organisations has been identified for this project based on their industry role, size or specialty. Skills Impact will ensure contact is made with each of these organisations to seek their involvement and views on all draft skill sets and units. Consultation is not limited to the organisations on this list, they have simply been identified as the most, likely to have a key interest in the development and outcomes of this project

If you are aware of an organisation that you think should be involved, please contact the project team to ensure they are contacted by us.

Development

This project will address the need for national skills standards for the rehabilitation of mined lands. There are many complexities to restoring mined lands that do not apply to other environments. While the skills to conserve and manage Australian’s various ecosystems are related, additional expertise is required to rehabilitate land after it has been used for mining. Skills are needed to re-establish native ecosystems and groundwater systems. The hands-on work to restore mined lands is often undertaken by Indigenous rangers and other community members on Aboriginal lands. The work to restoring mined land often requires multiple inputs, which can include efforts from environmental advisors working on a mine site, field workers carrying out conservation work, through to seed producers creating seeds that can survive in a land depleted of nutrients.

Experts in the sector are being engaged to help inform the content for the draft units of competency. A subject matter expert working group has also been identified and they will be convening at the end of November 2020. These experts are being consulted on the best ways to address the need for niche skills in rehabilitating mined land within the national training package. Consideration is being given to whether they should be addressed by a skill set or a stream of study in the Certificate III in Conservation and Ecosystem Management. They are looking at the existing units of competency for conservation and ecosystem management to identify whether additional units need to be developed to address the skills gap for rehabilitating mined land.

Development outcomes and next steps

Broad stakeholder consultation is scheduled to commence in December 2020, when draft units will be made available for feedback on this webpage. Your input is welcome, please feel free to register your interest to keep informed of project updates and when draft materials are available for feedback by following the newsletter subscription link below.

 

Register your interest in the project

Subscribe to the Skills Impact newsletter to keep informed about project updates and opportunities to provide input and feedback. Make sure to select ‘Agriculture, Horticulture, Conservation and Land Management’ as your industry of interest.

 

 

 

 

 

Drafts Available

While the skills to conserve and manage Australian’s various ecosystems are related, additional expertise is required to rehabilitate land after it has been used for mining. Skills are needed to re-establish native ecosystems and groundwater systems. Specific skills and knowledge is also required to work with topsoil that has been depleted of nutrients, to manage the presence of chemicals and heavy metals, and consider structural hazards both above and below ground. There are many complexities to restoring mined lands that do not apply to other environments. It is vital that these skills are supported, so that once mining activity is finished, land can be restored to a more natural state.

The unique skills to rehabilitate mined land were identified and described by a group of subject matter experts. This group of experts has considered the fact that the hands-on work is increasingly undertaken by Indigenous rangers and other community members on Aboriginal lands, as well as the fact that it can require multiple inputs, including from environmental advisors, field workers carrying out conservation work, through to seed producers.

The project team identified a range of units of competency that already exist and which cover many of the skills outlined by the subject matter experts. They worked with these experts to package the units together to create a draft qualification and four skill sets which could help deliver training in this sector.

Thank you to those who provided feedback on the draft qualification and skill sets that were made available on this page from 15 December 2020 – 17 February 2021. You can still view the documents and any comments made below.

Feedback on these initial drafts will inform the work on the final drafts which are expected to available for industry validation in April/May 2021.

Qualification

The skills for rehabilitating mined land are similar or related to many of the skills standards embedded within the Certificate III in Conservation and Ecosystem Management. For this reason, Subject Matter Experts have suggested that the niche skills for rehabilitating mined land could be addressed by creating a specialisation or ‘stream’ within the Certificate III. The benefit of a qualification with specialisations is that it offers learners more flexible training pathways. They can select one or two specialisations or choose the generalist option. They also have the option to gain further specialisations in the future, by completing additional units, rather than having to undertake a whole additional qualification. To specialise in Mined Land Rehabilitation, learners must complete at least 6 units of competency from a list of 20 units that have been identified to address the skills needs in this niche sector.

View draft Certificate III in Conservation and Ecosystem Management (with Mined Land Stream)

The draft qualification can be downloaded in Microsoft Word format by clicking here.

 

Skill Sets

Four skill sets have also been developed for consideration. They have been drafted to address the following skills areas:

  • Providing administrative support on mined land rehabilitation projects
  • Carrying out working on site on mined land rehabilitation projects
  • Operating machinery to assist with rehabilitation projects
  • Undertaking project coordination tasks in the rehabilitation of mined land

Skill sets offer a shorter course of training that is specific to a skills area. These skill sets would also offer pathways into a range of Certificate II and Certificate III qualifications, including the Certificate IV in Conservation and Ecosystem Management described above.

AHCSSXXXXXX Administrator in Mined Land Rehabilitation Skill SetView skill set
AHCSSXXXXXX Mined Land Rehabilitation Field Worker Skill SetView skill set
AHCSSXXXXXX Mined Land Rehabilitation Machine Operator Skill SetView skill set
AHCSSXXXXXX Mined Land Rehabilitation Project Coordinator Skill SetView skill set

The draft skill sets can be downloaded in Microsoft Word format by clicking here.

 

Summary of consultation to date

The draft qualifications, skill sets and units have been drafted in consultation with Subject Matter Experts. They have considered feedback that was received out of Workforce Functional Analysis workshops in November. People working directly in the mining and conservation and ecosystem management sectors participated and provided information on the skills and knowledge required for job roles and tasks. Thank you to those who provided feedback during these activities.

 

Register your interest in the project

Subscribe to the Skills Impact newsletter to keep informed about project updates and opportunities to provide input and feedback. Make sure to select ‘Agriculture, Horticulture, Conservation and Land Management’ as your industry of interest.

 

 

Validation

Much of the specialist skill and knowledge required to conserving and manage Australia’s unique ecosystems are transferable across a range of geographically diverse natural locations. However, additional expertise is required to rehabilitate land after it has been used for mining. Skills are needed to work with topsoil that has been depleted of nutrients, to manage the presence of chemicals and heavy metals, and consider structural hazards both above and below ground. Consultation is taking place throughout this project to capture the hands on skills required to restore mined land. The subject matter experts who have helped support the development of draft skill standards for this work have considered how this work is increasingly undertaken by Indigenous rangers and other community members on Aboriginal lands, as well as the fact that it can require multiple inputs, including from environmental advisors, field workers carrying out conservation work, through to seed producers.

Thank you to everyone who provided feedback on the final draft qualification and skill sets that were made available for validation and comment from 31 May to 17 June 2021. You can still view the documents and any comments made below.

The qualifications and skill sets have been created to provide training options for this growing sector, offering prospective students a grounding in the multitude of tasks required to rehabilitate areas that have previously been used for mining.

 

Summary of feedback and key changes

Thank you to those stakeholders who provided feedback on the initial drafts that were made available from 15 December 2020 – 21 January 2021, under the ‘Drafts Available’ stage. Your feedback has been used to inform the content of the final drafts listed below.

Feedback indicated the need for some minor changes, including:

  • The option to specialise in the skills for the ‘Rehabilitation of Mined Land’ has been added to the Certificate III in Conservation and Ecosystem Management. Additional units added to the General Elective bank of units in the qualification to support this specialisation, including work health and safety units
  • Some units have been removed from the developed skill sets, so that they contain only units specific to that job task
  • A unit describing the skills to develop work practices to accommodate cultural identity has been added to the Mined Land Rehabilitation Project Coordinator Skill Set, to reflect the skills in cultural sensitivity needed at a management level. A unit for managing enterprise staff requirements has also been added to reflect the skills required to manage staff.

A description of how feedback has been considered and applied in these final drafts can be downloaded below. Please click the ‘Download Summary of Feedback, Responses and Actions’ button.

Qualification

Qualification code and nameProposed changes Link
AHC314XX Certificate III in Conservation and Ecosystem ManagementThe option to specialise in the skills for the ‘Rehabilitation of Mined Land’ has been added to the qualification and additional units added to General Elective bank of units to support new specialisation.View draft qualification

 

The draft qualification can be downloaded in Microsoft Word format by clicking here.

 

Skill Sets

During consultation it was identified that some units would need to be removed from the skill sets, so that they contain only units directly relevant to the job task.

Qualification code and nameLink
AHCSSXXXXXX Administrator in Mined Land Rehabilitation Skill SetView draft skill set
AHCSSXXXXXX Mined Land Rehabilitation Field Worker Skill SetView draft skill set
AHCSSXXXXXX Mined Land Rehabilitation Machine Operator Skill SetView draft skill set
AHCSSXXXXXX Mined Land Rehabilitation Project Coordinator Skill SetView draft skill set

 

The draft skill sets can be downloaded in Microsoft Word format by clicking here.

Register your interest in the project

Subscribe to the Skills Impact newsletter to keep informed about project updates and opportunities to provide input and feedback. Make sure to select ‘Agriculture, Horticulture, Conservation & Land Management’ as your industry of interest on the subscription form.

 

Finalisation

The small but expanding area of rehabilitating land that has been used for mining will soon have access to nationally endorsed skills standards for the first time, supporting this vital work. While many of the skills for conserving and managing Australia’s ecosystems are transferable across geographically diverse environments, rehabilitating land that has previously been used for mining requires specialised, additional expertise. Working with topsoil that has been depleted of nutrients, managing the presence of chemicals and heavy metals, and considering structural hazards both above and below ground are all essential skills. Mine sites are now expected to have a land rehabilitation plan built into their plans for closure and with over 350 operating mines and mineral deposits across Australia, it is vital that the skills to restore mined land to a safe, stable environment are accessible.

Thanks to everyone involved in this project the hands on skills required to restore mined land have been captured in four skill sets and a ‘rehabilitation of mined land’ specialisation in the Certificate III in Conservation and Ecosystem Management. The subject matter experts who have helped support the development of draft skill standards for this work have considered how this work is increasingly undertaken by Indigenous rangers and other community members on Aboriginal lands, as well as the fact that it can require multiple inputs, including from environmental advisors, field workers carrying out conservation work, through to seed producers.

The contents of each skill set and the specialisation added to the Certificate III in Conservation and Ecosystem Management are comprehensive of the skills required for somebody undertaking this work. The specialisation will support a person developing a very rounded and multiskilled approach to their work. My role sits between an employee of a registered training provider and a contractor for rehabilitating contaminated sites. Working with Skills Impact from the inception of the project to the finished product, I feel confident in recommending the skill sets and qualification to those in my field of work.

Matthew Pearson, Central Queensland University

 

Summary of feedback and key changes

A Subject Matter Expert (SME) working group containing recognised industry experts from around the country helped develop the draft documents. They were then made available on this website for broad industry feedback in two stages, the ‘Drafts Available’ stage from 2 February – 21 March 2021 and the ‘Validation’ stage from 31 May to 17 June 2021. During this time, feedback was collected via the online feedback hub, webinar, and via phone call and email.

COVID-19 restrictions meant that the usual methods of face to face consultation were hampered. The ‘Drafts Available’ phase was extended by two weeks to compensate for restrictions, and during Validation one on one meetings were arranged for those who could not attend the two Zoom Validation Meetings.

Special thanks to everyone who took the time to assist with the project.

Feedback indicated the need for some minor changes, including:

  • The option to specialise in the skills for the ‘Rehabilitation of Mined Land’ has been added to the Certificate III in Conservation and Ecosystem Management. Additional units have been added to the general elective bank of units in the qualification to support this specialisation, including work health and safety units.
  • Four skill sets have been developed to address the following skills areas:
    • Providing administrative support on mined land rehabilitation projects
    • Carrying out working on site on mined land rehabilitation projects
    • Operating machinery to assist with rehabilitation projects
    • Undertaking project coordination tasks in the rehabilitation of mined land.
  • A unit describing the skills to develop work practices to accommodate cultural identity has been added to the Mined Land Rehabilitation Project Coordinator Skill Set, to reflect the skills in cultural sensitivity needed at a management level. A unit for managing enterprise staff requirements has also been added to the skill set.

A description of how feedback has been considered and applied after the ‘Drafts Available’ stage can be downloaded below. Please click the ‘Download Summary of Feedback, Responses and Actions’ button. A summary of feedback and responses from the ‘Validation’ stage will be made available soon.

The final draft skill sets and qualification have been submitted to Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) for consideration and endorsement, after which they will be forwarded to State and Territory Ministers. They have undergone an edit and equity and independent quality assurance process, to ensure they are of high quality and comply with the Standards for Training Packages 2012, the Training Package Products Policy and the Training Package Development and Endorsement Process Policy. They have also been considered by the State/Territory Training Authorities (STAs/TTAs). A Case for Endorsement was submitted alongside the draft qualification and skill sets, including a rationale of why these changes are needed and evidence of industry support.

The submitted draft documents are available to download below.

Download the Case for Endorsement

Companion Volume Implementation Guide

A Companion Volume Implementation Guide is also being produced to assist industry and registered training providers (RTOs) deliver the units. It will contain key information to help trainers adapt to any new changes, as well as additional information about the impacts of regulation and licensing implications and workplace health and safety on their training.

Download draft Companion Volume Implementation Guide Part 1

Download draft Companion Volume Implementation Guide Part 2

 

Qualification

The draft qualification can be downloaded in Microsoft Word format by clicking here.

Qualification code and name
AHC31421 Certificate III in Conservation and Ecosystem Management

Skill Sets

The draft qualification can be downloaded in Microsoft Word format by clicking here.

Qualification code and name
AHCSS00123 Administrator in Mined Land Rehabilitation Skill Set
AHCSS00124 Mined Land Rehabilitation Field Worker Skill Set
AHCSS00125 Mined Land Rehabilitation Machine Operator Skill Set
AHCSS00126 Mined Land Rehabilitation Project Coordinator Skill Set

Register your interest in the project

Subscribe to the Skills Impact newsletter to keep informed about project updates and opportunities to provide input and feedback. Make sure to select ‘Agriculture, Horticulture, Conservation & Land Management’ as your industry of interest on the subscription form.