Mines Minister George Cash has rejected as nonsense claims by Eyre MLA Julian Grill that amendments put through Parliament last week spelt the death knell for prospectors.
Mr Cash said that to the contrary, the Government was responsive to prospectors' needs and had included in the amendments provisions sought by the Amalgamated Prospectors' and Leaseholders' Association for shorter-term special prospecting licences.
All sectors of the mining industry, including the Prospectors Association, had been consulted and agreed to the amendments in the Mining Industry Liaison Committee, he said.
New regulations will prescribe the conditions under which the five-year term of an exploration licence can be extended and these will be strictly enforced so that ground will be maintained only when a major exploration program is underway.
In addition, the minimum expenditure commitment will rise from $20,000 in the fifth year to $50,000 in each of the sixth and seventh years and to $100,000 a year if extended to the eighth and ninth years.
"Failure to provide for extension of term would force the exploration licence holders to convert their titles to mining leases which would make it more difficult for prospectors to get access to ground," Mr Cash said.
He said prospectors could apply for special prospecting licences for gold on exploration licences and they were more likely to obtain access on these titles than on mining leases where the prior consent of the leaseholder was required.
It was advantageous to the prospector for the area to be held as an exploration licence rather than a mining lease.
Mr Cash added that retention licences had been agreed to by the previous Labor Government and included in the Mining Amendment Bill (No. 2) it introduced late in 1992.
He said the Government supported the new title which became available in July this year as it provided a logical link between exploration and mining where mineral deposits were discovered which were currently uneconomic.
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