WA seeks streamlined Mining Act

The Western Australian Government has proposed to amend the Mining Act 1978 to improve regulation and update approvals processes.

The Mining Amendment Bill has three goals, according to the Department of Mines Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS).

According to DMIRS, these goals are “to streamline administrative processes, safeguard the security of titles and licences, and generate certainty for the resource sector.”

The goals will be achieved using three action points including the adoption of GDA2020 for more accurate geodetic datum, allowing lease conversion without marking the land in the case of a significant event, and marking some lands as “unavailable for exploration.”

GDA2020 (Geocentric Datum of Australia 2020) is the result of $225 million of investment by the Federal Government to provide 10-centimetre accurate positioning to anyone in Australia at any time.

This is a significant improvement on current GPS (global positioning system) devices which can achieve 5 to 10 metre accuracy.

Should the Mining Amendment Bill be passed, GDA2020 will be adopted in Western Australia and a smooth transition from the previous version (GDA94) will be enabled.

The second action point allows licence holders to be protected from the adverse effects on their conversion application due to natural disaster, civil disturbance, industrial dispute or other circumstance beyond their control.

If an event such as these were to occur, the licence holder could have their conversion approved without first marking out the land.

“Once the event no longer prevents access to the land, the titleholder will be required to complete the marking out,” the DMIRS stated.

“This will remove the risk to the holder of losing the title in certain circumstances that prevent access to the land and to secure the titles system.”

Finally, it is proposed that the Mines Minister be given the ability to determine lands as “unavailable for exploration” when granting exploration licences.

“This is in recognition that not all land subject to an exploration licence application is of interest to the applicant,” the DMIRS stated.

“Areas such as Native Title areas (determined or undetermined), granted miscellaneous licences, or areas set aside by the government for other future land uses may be made unavailable for exploration.”

While this would remove exploration from the land’s potential use, other mining licences may still be applied for and granted.

This change recognises that some lands would be of more use to a third party than for exploration purposes, according to the DMIRS.

The Mining Amendment Bill has been publicised to industry, government and Native Title parties in May and June 2021 and will now undergo a public consultation process.

Public feedback submissions close on March 11, 2022.

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