The WA Department of Mines and Petroleum has introduced a new system which will prevent large miners from getting the upper hand over small prospectors in applying for newly surrendered tenements.
According to the DMP a number of prospectors have raised concerns that larger miners have employed the use of “data mining” software which is capable gaining an unfair advantage in securing exploration tenements immediately after they are surrendered.
With around 50 mining tenements surrendered each week in WA, the practice of data mining the DMP’s online systems is considered a breach of the terms and conditions of their use.
The Australian reported that in December both Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group were warned not to try to exploit mining tenement data held online by the Department of Mines and Petroleum.
The companies were found to have used the services of Perth-based company Austwide Mining Title Management, which secures tenements on behalf of other companies and has been identified as one of the companies most heavily involved in data mining.
DMP executive director of mineral titles Dr Ivor Roberts said the use of data mining previously became so intense it had disrupted the department’s online systems.
“To ensure equity, over the next few months the department will establish an online system where availability of tenements will be provided free of charge, following the registration of surrender,” Roberts said.
Information about newly available tenements will be released via the DMP website and distributed through RSS feed, similar to the public lodgement notification of new tenement applications.
Detailed, cost-free tenement information will be made available for download the following day, which DMP said would alleviate the need for large companies to trawl through the department’s online systems for compliance purposes.
“This will help companies audit and manage their tenements for compliance as well as determine when ground is available, without the need for ‘data mining’,” WA mines and petroleum minister Bill Marmion said.
“The data will not, however, include any pre-registration information that may indicate the surrender of a tenement.”