Mining approvals take two years

The WA Department of Mines have released figures showing it takes just over two years for a new mining project to reach final approval in the state.

The numbers were released by the department today to hit back at  industry criticism that approval timelines often blew out to five years, making the state a less attractive place to develop projects.

The department said the average was reached after inspecting around a thousand mining proposals over the past four years.

ABC reports The Chamber of Minerals and Energy welcomed the progress that has been made to approval times.

However, The Wilderness Society's Peter Robertson says approval times have been reduced at the cost of the environment.

"The recent furore over fracking for example demonstrates that the Department of Mines and the Minister for Mines are in a huge rush to approve all kinds of mining projects, both onshore and offshore, in all parts of WA without adequate safeguards, without adequate assessments," he said.

"WA should uphold the strictest standards because our environment is already under enormous pressure," he said.

"We shouldn't be cutting corners and we shouldn't be fast-tracking approvals because we've already done so much damage and we've learnt very little from it."

Regulatory burdens facing the mining industry have been widely discussed recently as some point to overcomplicated processes as damaging the resource sectors global competitiveness.

At her book launch in Sydney recently, Gina Rinehart said the cost of regulations was making Australia an unattractive investment destination.

Rinehart explained that for a recent project in Queensland, over 5000 approval processes had to be submitted.

“Now for a big company, say a BHP or a Rio, they have floors of people working on these approvals, this where it is so difficult for small businesses ,or even medium businesses because small businesses have to go through exactly what the bigger ones have to go through  and it is really hard for small businesses to go through the myriad of approvals,” she told Australian Mining

While at the recent  NSW Minerals Council Industry Conference Professor Henry Ergas from the University of Wollongong said policy reform around planning and the environment was essential, arguing that if restrictive policies were not amended it would mean to ‘forego significant net benefits moving forward.’

Orica Mining Services business manager for South East Australia, Kirsten Molloy, agrees that the planning process needs to be fixed.

“The planning process is challenging, can be difficult at times and can take quite a long time – so it’s all the things that can add to the complexity and cost of doing business,” she told Australian Mining.

Image: flickr

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