WA mines and petroleum minister Bill Marmion has commended the Mining Rehabilitation Fund (MRF) as “one of the Department’s biggest reforms” with $1 billion in bonds returned to industry.
Speaking at the AMEC Mining and the Environment Conference in Perth yesterday, Marmion said $30 million has been paid into the fund since it was started in 2012.
The returns were part of the program to retire environmental bonds, which rolled out as companies registered and paid their annual levies to the MRF.
AMEC CEO Simon Bennison said the reform was an outstanding outcome from an AMEC recommendation.
“The MRF has found wide acceptance across industry. It encourages companies to progressively rehabilitate which provides the best and most cost effective environmental outcomes, Bennison said.
“Following the success of the MRF in Western Australia, AMEC has been advocating for New South Wales to introduce a similar mining rehabilitation fund model.
“This would free up much needed capital for further investment, and simplify and reduce the administrative burden.
“A collaborative approach between industry and Government is essential to achieve the best environmental outcomes, and policies that balance the needs of industry and the environment. The AMEC Mining and the Environment Conference provides a forum for this.”
Marmion said the mining industry contributed more than $120 billion to the West Australian economy last year and employed around 100,000 people.
However, Bennison was not without his criticisms for the government, calling the introduction of new fees for assessing mining proposals and programmes of works to fund additional compliance “innapropriate”.
“These fees have been calculated to fund a shortfall of $2.7 million in the Department of Mines and Petroleum’s Reforming Environmental Regulation budget,” Bennison said.
“This is encouraging poor business practices and sets a precedence [sic] on how the agency will finance future shortfalls in its budget.
“Industry has been cutting costs and increasing productivity wherever possible and the agency must be seeking to do the same. AMEC is requesting efficiency gains within the agency and alternatives to be investigated to fund the shortfall,” said Mr Bennison.
Minister Marmion defended the fees, stating they were ‘modest’ compared with the charges in Queensland and that ‘intense consideration’ had been given to these charges.
Bennison said the comparison between states was “nonsense” as the fee structure was different.
Image: West Australian