The Department of Mines and Petroleum has reached a milestone with the reduction of the number of pending tenement applications to fewer than 10,000.
This achievement comes about two years after the tenement backlog peaked at 18,727 pending applications, in February 2007.
It is the first time in 10 years that the backlog has fallen below 10,000 pending applications.
Department of Mines and Petroleum Mineral Titles Director Roy Burton said staff in its nine regional centres and Perth office had worked hard to clear the backlog.
“We’re confident that we’ll continue to reduce the backlog and streamline our approvals processes,” he said.
“There has been a lot of work behind the scenes improving our internal databases while our diligent mining registrars and tenure officers have been dealing with record numbers of applications.
“From 2004 to 2008, the department received 22,871 tenement applications. In the preceding four-year period the department received only 13,581.”
Mr Burton said the spike in applications was a result of changes to the Mining Act that came into effect in 2006.
Two of the changes were the introduction of the need to demonstrate that mineralisation had been discovered before a mining lease could be applied for, and longer terms for exploration titles.
Also, a one-year reversion option was made available to the applicants for 7700 mining leases, to encourage a return to exploration titles.
Another change to the legislation meant proponents could apply to explore a maximum of 200 blocks of land instead of 70 blocks.
“This meant that from February 2006 to February 2007, the department received more than 6630 prospecting and exploration licence applications and only 22 mining lease applications,” Mr Burton said.
This year marks the start of reviewing the amended legislation by canvassing industry about how the changes to the Act have affected their current and proposed operations.
Mr Burton said Western Australia had the largest mineral titles system in Australia, if not the world, and the changes to the Act had made it the most effective mining legislation in Australia.
“Our statistics show the department is making good progress through the tenement backlog and I expect that we will continue to improve our processes and reach more milestones in the years ahead,” he said.
*This article was first published in the March/May edition Prospect, published by the Western Australian Government’s Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) and Department of State Development (DSD).