Mining investment must be protected in plan for more conservation parks

20 February

Today the Premier, Hon Mark McGowan MLA, announced that the WA Government would pursue a 20 percent increase in the State’s conservation estate, securing an additional 5 million hectares over 5 years. 

The plans overlap with existing exploration and mining tenements across Western Australia, where companies have invested considerable funds exploring for minerals; several of these areas are thought to be highly prospective. 

“AMEC recognises the Government’s desire to increase the conservation estate and the importance of protecting Western Australia’s unique biodiversity, however, the Government must also balance the existing rights of tenement holders, as well as the resource potential of these areas and the overall economic and social benefits to the State,” says the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies’ (AMEC) Chief Executive Officer Warren Pearce.

“These companies have followed the government’s legislative and regulatory framework, applied for and been granted tenements, and then have met all minimum expenditure requirements over the following years.” 

AMEC received a briefing on the proposal earlier this week and the State Government has committed to ensure that there is meaningful consultation with industry, and with affected mining and exploration companies. Government has also confirmed that it will attempt to balance industry and conservation needs. 

“Industry will be concerned to see that highly prospective and developmental areas are not sterilized from future development, and that existing tenement holders are not disadvantaged.”   
 
“AMEC will work with member companies to understand the implications for exploration and mining projects and will engage with the State Government to ensure these interests can be protected.”

Although exploration and mining tenements cover a vast area, only an extremely small portion (less than 1%) of WA’s land mass is directly affected by mining activity.  

“If at the end of the process the State Government expects companies to give up valuable tenement holdings, then these companies must be entitled to fair compensation.” says Mr Pearce.