To begin with, miners and quarry companies must comply with regulatory requirements. They include consents (under the Resource Management Act 1991, currently under reform), access arrangements (Crown Minerals Act 1991), concessions (Conservation Act 1987), permits to move wildlife (Wildlife Act 1953), and authorities to modify archaeological sites and heritage (Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014).
Companies often carry out additional environmental management voluntarily as part of its gaining a “social licence to operate" in a community or rohe (land with which a Māori tribe (iwi) or sub-tribe (hapū) has an ancestral connection).
After a mining operation, the land can never be put back exactly as it was. Mining companies (like other land users and developers) follow the “effects management hierarchy” when managing their effects on the environment. This is a stepwise approach to: avoiding effects where practicable, then reducing effects, then remediation (repairing harm), and mitigation (making effects less severe). For residual effects, the company will deliver an offset (positive effects at another site to a measurable standard of “no net loss” or better), and/or compensation (a counter-balancing of adverse effects, to a less than measurable standard but still with the aim of no net loss).
Mine planning will have the effects management hierarchy as a core tool under the approach outlined above. Early engagement with communities and iwi and other stakeholders such as councils ahead of applying for environmental approvals, is an important part of designing the project.
Mining involves at least some disturbance of ground and that will require site rehabilitation, during mining and/or post mine closure. This usually entails recontouring the landscape, applying topsoil and planting native seedlings, and/or pasture (in cases where the land that was once farmed).
Other work can include: animal and plant pest control; fencing out livestock, translocation of native species; riparian and other native plantings; water treatment; creation of native fish passage; wetland restoration; and legal protection of land.