The Western Australian Government has extended its moratorium on increased environmental bond rates until at least the end of 2010.
With the existing freeze due to expire in December this year, the State’s Minister for Mining and Petroleum Norman Moore said the extension is a responsible policy decision, given that economic recovery is still underway.
According to Moore, there is a current need to foster the increasingly apparent recovery, rather than introduce additional cost pressures.
This was supported by the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC) national manager of policy and government relations Darren Brown.
“In lean times such as these, extra costs in any guise can be the difference between a resources project going ahead or being shelved indefinitely,” he told MINING DAILY.
“Obviously, an unrealised resource is about as useful as a car without fuel.”
Environmental bonds were introduced to Western Australia’s mining sector in the late 1980s as an assurance against companies failing to effectively rehabilitate mine sites
However, Moore said that it was unlikely that environmental bond rates would remain at their current levels for long, but the State Government planned to look at tougher rules to ensure companies meet their obligations.
“Increased environmental bonds will be part of future requirements for the mining sector,” he said.
“We will liaise with industry representatives and other stakeholders over the next 14 months to ensure that future arrangements achieve good environmental outcomes without unnecessarily constraining development in the mining industry.”
Brown said that although there are possible alternatives, such as arranging insurance or a bank guarantee, there is still a long way to go.