WA Government maps out recovery plan for mining

BHP's Western Australia Iron Ore operations Image: BHP

The Western Australian Government’s $5.5 billion recovery plan will support minerals exploration to increase mining activity across the state.

The exploration activity investment will “complement” other operations in regional areas and will help build the industry’s understanding of the state’s geoscience.

Amendments will be made to the state government’s mining regulations to reduce assessment timeframes for exploration applications to speed up projects.

Its other changes include expenditure exemptions for mining tenement holders if they have been financially affected by COVID-19.

“The mining sector is the backbone of the WA economy and has played an integral part in keeping Western Australia in a strong economic position throughout the pandemic,” Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan said.

“The McGowan Government will continue to support mining exploration to build a pipeline of new activity to complement existing operations.

“Initiatives will include building on the industry’s understanding of the state’s geoscience, encouraging exploration activities and ultimately kick-starting new projects across Western Australia.

“Changes to regulations will also allow mining tenement holders to apply for expenditure exemptions if they are able to demonstrate that the COVID-19 pandemic affected their financial capacity to meet expenditure conditions of their leases.”

The Joe Lord Core Library in Kalgoorlie, which stores core samples containing geoscientific information, will be given $7 million to expand to encourage new mineral discoveries.

Western Australia’s recovery plan has also been recognised by the Queensland Resources Council (QRC), which is encouraging the Queensland Government to adopt similar initiatives for its economic recovery.

“The resources industry in Queensland, like WA, has been one of the very few sectors to keep our Queenslanders working and earning. We have kept the lights on during one of the darkest periods in Queensland’s history,” Queensland Resource Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane said.

“Like the industry in WA, the Queensland resources sector needs the state government to help kick-start new projects with support for exploration, reduced assessment timeframes and exemption for affected mining tenement holders.”

The Queensland Government has increased funding for its Collaborative Exploration Initiative by $10 million in response to QRC suggestions, but Macfarlane said more needed to be done.

The QRC is encouraging the state government to streamline assessment and approval processes; provide a 10-year royalty freeze on resources commodity; and introduce an “industry development plan” to enable long-term growth in the sector.

“For the resources sector to do more, we need the Queensland Government to do more,” Macfarlane said.

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