All EARS to the ground

The WA Department of Minerals and Resources has released an updated environmental approvals system.

The Western Australian Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) has upgraded its online environmental application system.

The DMP has released the improved Environmental Assessment and Regulatory System (EARS), which allows explorers to lodge their Programmes of Work (POW) online.

POWs are a regulatory requirement before any exploration activity can begin on a tenement.

Speaking to MINING DAILY, DMP deputy director general Stedman Ellis said “there has been a significant effort by the DMP to streamline the approvals process.

“Following criticisms of the state for its slow exploration and tenure approvals system, we have made it a priority to improve this system,” he said.

Ellis told MINING DAILY that much like Queensland, who is also carrying out an intensive program to upgrade its approvals process, Western Australia is trying to attract investment and the previous approvals process was an impediment to this.

The DMP is focused on “increasingly putting the system online, and giving explorers the ability to track the progress of their applications,” he added.

Ellis stated that the online service is designed to save explorers time and resources.

The new system avoids the need for explorers to post in their exploration applications and will result in quicker turn around time for environmental assessments, he added.

According to a department spokesperson, explorers can potentially cut seven weeks waiting time from applications.

The EARS program is one of a number of developments the DMP is making in creating clearer protocols and expectations as well as increasing the quality of the exploration and development guidelines, Ellis explained.

The new systems have been in development by the Department of Mines and Petroleum since August 2009, and have undergone recent testing by industry operators.

“This upgrade is another significant step towards greater efficiency and transparency of the State’s approvals processes,” Ellis said.

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