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Mine Development closure plan consultation. 

The Mining Amendment Act 2022 introduced a new Mining Development and Closure Proposal (MDCP) framework, that will streamline the reporting of how operations are meeting mine development and closure obligations.  An MDCP will be a single application document that only captures information required for assessment of a proposed mining operation.  

Following a discussion paper in 2023, an Industry Reference Group drafted Guideline is currently out for consultation until 13 May 2024. AMEC are providing a submission to the draft guideline, and would welcome further input. 

Thank you to Troy Collie of Mt Gibson Iron and James Hesford of Tetris Environmental for their input into the initial drafting by the Industry Reference Group. 

 

Resources Online Eligible Mining Activities Update 

The WA Government is developing the Resources Online platform to replace the existing lodgement portal EARS Online.  The new Resources Online platform will include the delivery of the Eligible Mining Activities process that AMEC has been advocating for well over a decade.  EMA will provide a notification pathway for mineral exploration activity occurring in accordance with strict conditions in areas that are not environmentally sensitive.  This is anticipated to lower the administrative burden on DEMIRS by approximately 30% and lower the cost of doing business for WA industry. 

The Resources Online platform is expected to begin to go live in September 2024, with AMEC participating in the Industry Reference Group.  The learnings of WA Environment Online have already been reflected back to DEMIRS and AMEC is committed to working with Government to ensure this is a streamlined project. 

 

MRF Review release 

An independent, 10-year review into the operation of the MRF is a requirement of the Mining Rehabilitation Fund Act 2012 (MRF Act). The WA Government engaged Marsden Jacob Associates to undertake the public consultation and statutory review of the MRF Act in 2023, with the final report published in April 2024. AMEC and the Environment and Water Advisory Committee met with Marsden Jacob twice in the consultation. The Final Report’s 16 recommendations include many called for by AMEC such as the inclusion of State Agreement organisations in the MRF, incentivising progressive rehabilitation, a thorough review of the Rehabilitation Liability Estimate categories; and streamlining of reporting. 

Importantly the Review found that: “The Act’s objectives and purpose remain relevant (and) It (the MRF) is a well-targeted approach to minimising the risk and impost of abandoned mines to and on the State.” AMEC will continue to advocate for the continuation of the MRF, with improvements. 

AMEC are providing a submission to the Government regarding the recommendations. 

 

Conservation management plans 

AMEC and the Environmental Consultants Association coordinated an information session jointly hosted by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) and the Department of Energy, Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DEMIRS) on Conservation Management Plans.  Conservation Management Plans are required when mineral exploration and mining activities overlap with conservation estates.  The guidance for CMPs has not been publicly available since at least 2014, and the lack of guidance is contributing to delays in grant of tenure.  AMEC are seeking a follow up meeting to work with DBCA and DEMIRS on guidance to streamline the provision of Conservation Management Plans. 

 

No Mining Conditions 

The consultation on No Mining Conditions closed in February 2024. The phrasing of the proposed No Mining Condition is believed to have not been acceptable in its drafting to the owners of major linear infrastructure.  AMEC has provided a submission and met with DEMIRS separately to discuss. AMEC are discussing pursuing legislative amendments to allow the excision on Exploration Licences. 

The consultation on ‘no mining conditions’ is due to Minutes of Programming Direction no longer being used. In his Supreme Court decision, Chief Justice Quinlan on appeal of the ‘Blue  Ribbon’ Warden’s Court case that the Minister does not have the power to excise parts of blocks via Minutes of Programming Direction. The decision suggests that the Minister does have the power to impose No Mining Conditions and Approval Conditions.

 

Pilbara Environmental Offset Fund Review 

The State and Commonwealth Government’s Review of the Pilbara Environmental Offset Fund Review has concluded.  This statutory review will consider how the PEOF is operating and identify streamlining opportunities.  AMEC and industry contributed to the Review in late 2023.  AMEC has arranged a briefing for members that contribute to the PEOF Statutory Fund in May 2024.

Vogel McFerran Environmental reform update 

The Vogel McFerran Environmental Reform was announced in December 2023, and AMEC has continued to meet with the Department of Premier and Cabinet and the Department of Water, Environmental Regulation regarding the reforms.  The first of the reforms delivered on was a new office space for meeting for the EPA in Perth’s CBD.

 

Uranium Policy Announced

AMEC welcomed a commitment from the WA Liberal Party Leader Libby Mettam MLA, to lift the current ban on uranium mining.

In a speech delivered at AMEC’s ‘WA Breaking Ground’ forum, Ms Mettam said “The state is endowed with substantial uranium reserves with the potential to create jobs, stimulate economic growth, and diversify our economy.”

Amidst a backdrop of increasing demand for uranium across the globe, the time for a healthy debate about reversing the ban on uranium mining is now.

AMEC will continue its advocacy for uranium mining in WA and renews its call for the WA Labor Government to consider this logical step, to lift the current ban.