Prospectors in Western Australia will soon have access to advanced satellite-linking position locating equipment from five regional offices of the Department of Minerals and Energy.
Mines Minister Kevin Minson said today a total of five Global Positioning System (GPS) units would be available for short-term loan from Mining Registrar offices at Kalgoorlie, Leonora, Mt Magnet, Meekatharra and Marble Bar.
The GPS units, worth a total of $50,000, operate via Optus satellite and will enable prospectors to obtain accurate positioning information for existing tenements and when pegging new ones.
"The units can be used to navigate to pre-programed TENGRAPH-derived coordinates in the field or provide coordinates for the user's current position to within one to five metres," Mr Minson said.
Funding for this initiative has come from unclaimed survey fees which were collected under the now defunct 1904 Mining Act.
In June, Cabinet agreed the unclaimed 1904 Mining Act Survey Trust Fund monies be made available to the Department of Minerals and Energy (DME) for general survey programs over the next two financial years.
The amount available in 1996/97 is $508,605 with an additional $499,479 to be allocated in 1997/98, once procedures in the Unclaimed Money Act 1990 have been followed.
A subcommittee of the Mining Industry Liaison Committee (MILC) comprising mining, surveying and prospector representation was asked to examine and analyse numerous proposals on how to best distribute the funds.
Mr Minson said the idea to make available the GPS units had come from prospectors through the Amalgamated Prospectors and Leaseholders Association (APLA).
"We know the GPS units will be in great demand and the benefits of the arrangement will be very much appreciated by prospectors in regional areas," he said.
"Prospectors will be expected to provide GPS coordinate information to the DME which will enhance the Department's TENGRAPH system.
"TENGRAPH is a computerised mapping system which displays the position of mining tenements in relation to other land information such as crown reserves and pastoral leases. The system allows users to quickly identify what areas are available for exploration or mining.
The Department will provide support for the program including GPS operating instructions, on an ongoing basis and additional units may be bought depending on the program's success.
The subcommittee's four other recommendations for distributing the 1996/97 allocation of the trust fund were also approved.
They include $80,000 for improvements to the State's survey framework, $210,000 for survey control in specified mining areas and $50,000 for a pilot study in the South West to evaluate geological and topographic information.
The subcommittee has also recommended the allocation of $120,000 to employ contract personnel to accelerate the release of the TENGRAPH system over the South West Mineral Field which will complete the Statewide coverage.
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