Western Australian Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston has endorsed a plan to accelerate exploration and mining approvals in the state following a significant increase in applications this financial year.
The Approvals Response Plan, developed by the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety, will focus on prioritising the assessment and approvals of Programs of Work applications, Mining Proposals and Native Vegetation Clearing Permits.
Program of Work applications proposing exploration activities have increased by 42 per cent during the period with 450 applications received in March 2022, while Mining Proposals have increased by 10 per cent.
The Approvals Response Plan will redirect a number of regulatory functions and resources to support the assessment processes.
It will defer all revisions or post-approval Mine Closure Plan submissions required under the Mining Act 1978 which are considered lower risk, for a 12-month period from July 1, 2022 to June 2023, and individual companies will be notified accordingly.
Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston said the high number of mining applications was another clear indication that Western Australia’s resources sector is growing from strength to strength.
“Ongoing responsible and sustainable exploration and mining activities are essential to maintaining the sector’s strong performance,” he said.
“The Approval Response Plan’s redirection of departmental resources will give the industry confidence in the timeframe for key resource sector approvals.
“Exploration approvals will be prioritised to bring them back on track by the end of September 2022. Other approvals will meet their timeframe targets by the end of this year.”
Acting Chamber of Minerals and Energy chief executive Rob Carruthers said the announcement of the plan was welcome news.
“We understand there are a variety of pressures on government department resources at this time, not the least the impact of a tight labour market,” he said.
“But exploration development approvals are absolutely crucial to the WA mining and resources sector being able to provide the extremely significant contributions it makes to State and Federal economies, and communities right across the country.
“Timely and consistent regulatory approvals and processes are also integral to major companies and investors being willing to make the types of funding commitments required to develop large-scale projects.
“There are currently $156 billion in projects in the WA resources pipeline and each of these will be a very strong future source of employment and economic benefits for communities across our state if they can be brought to fruition.”
“We thank the WA Government for their willingness to take tangible steps to improve regulatory processing and approval timelines to ensure WA retains it hard-won position as a globally competitive resources jurisdiction.”