Shorter-term special gold prospecting licences and the lifting of restrictions on aerial survey work are part of a package of initiatives announced today by Mines Minister George Cash to enhance the effectiveness of the Mining Act.
Mr Cash said there were a number of positive changes contained in the Mining Amendment Act and Regulations to reduce disputation and further encourage mineral exploration in the State.
“This will lead to more mining development in the long term, more jobs and more revenue for the people of Western Australia,” he said.
“With the introduction of shorter-term special prospecting licences ranging from three months to four years, it is anticipated that primary tenement holders will be more receptive to small-scale alluvial gold prospecting on their tenements.
“This will give small-scale prospectors greater opportunity to learn or practise their skills as prospective land becomes available.
“Explorers and service companies will also be pleased to know that as a result of these amendments, aerial survey work is now no longer an offence under the Mining Act.
“Aerial surveys are an essential element of mineral exploration and it is important that gathering data by this method is not restricted or prevented under the Act.”
Mr Cash said another significant change was the introduction of a ballot system where competing tenement applications were lodged on ground previously relinquished or forfeited.
“Applications for exploration licences to the Mining Registrar will be deemed to have been received at the same time and will be included in a ballot to determine priority unless the applicants can reach prior agreement,” Mr Cash said.
“This is a simple system designed to resolve the successful applicant when a situation of competition arises and will significantly reduce the amount of disputes reaching the courts.”
The amendments now allow the Mining Registrar to determine prospecting and miscellaneous licence applications. The Mining Registrar can also make recommendations on other applications without reference to the Warden’s Court, provided all formalities are complete and no objections have been lodged.
“With the delegation of routine administrative work, the Warden’s Court is now free to concentrate on matters in dispute which is its primary role,” Mr Cash said.
Another amendment provides for the possible forfeiture of title if annual mineral exploration reports on exploration activities are not lodged with the Department of Minerals and Energy.
The department intends to issue detailed guidelines to clarify tenement holders obligations regarding reporting.
Mr Cash said progressive legislation made an important contribution to maintaining WA’s position at the forefront of international best practice in the mining industry.
The amendments were reached in consultation with the Chamber of Mines and Energy, the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies, Amalgamated Prospectors’ and Leaseholders’ Association and the Australian Mining and Petroleum Law Association.
The Mining Amendment Act and Regulations were proclaimed today and come into effect tomorrow.
Media contacts: Will Henwood 481 2044
Department of Minerals and Energy - Roy Burton 222 3184