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Mining Titles Reform

As called for by AMEC, since the 2017 Forrest & Forrest v Wilson & Orrs case undercut the security of Western Australian Mining Title, the Government has announced legislative reforms to occur before the end of the Parliamentary sitting year.

AMEC has strongly advocated over many years for security of mining tenure and for changes to the lengthy and costly challenges faced by explorers, during the tenement application process. Recent court cases, namely True Fella and Blue Ribbon, have created significant challenges that can only be fixed through legislative reform.

This is a clear sign that the WA Government, and the new Mines Minister, recognises the importance and contribution of explorers and miners, and the significant role they play on both a State and Federal level.

The announced reforms are crucial amendments for industry that should also take pressures off government departments that are dealing with a significant number of applications as a consequence of the recent court cases. 

The Minister will split the draft mining amendment legislation into two, with the goal to speed up the legislative process and deliver greater certainty to industry. There will be draft amendments to address common pitfalls in the tenement application process. These include addressing the validity of Section 58 Statements required to accompany an exploration licence application, the need for wet signatures, witnessing requirements and other minor administrative hurdles that have created outsized problems.

AMEC will work with the Department of Energy, Mining, Industry Regulation and Safety (DEMIRS) on the drafting and encourages members that are interested to engage with AMEC as soon as possible.

Native Title

AMEC continues to engage with members and the Government regarding the application of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 and the rising cost of land access from Indigenous counter parties. Notably, the Tjiwarl settlement concluded last year including pricing that were out of step with the rest of WA and has lifted the cost of doing business across the sector.

The key charges to exploration that are the cause of concern for industry are in schedule 5 on page 321 of the Agreement those being:

  • $150/km2 upfront cost; and
  • 7% of the annual Exploration Expenditure on that Licence, as calculated from Expenditure Reports; or 30% of the annual rental payable to the State in respect of that Licence, whichever is greater.

There are believed to be eight settlements in various stages of negotiation currently by the State Government. There are over 130 settlements still be settled. So far, each Native Title settlement has included differing compensation and different Future Act arrangements.

The rising costs for land access, and the evolving settlements, have been identified by AMEC as an advocacy priority. AMEC is working with the members of its Aboriginal Affairs Committee to identify solutions.

Vogel McFerran Review

The WA Government review, led by former WA Environmental Protection Authority chair Dr Paul Vogel, and planning expert David McFerran, delivered 39 recommendations to Government in December.  The Government has accepted most of the recommendations, placing timeframes on their delivery. Read the 39 Recommendations here.

Several legislative amendments are included in the reforms, with drafting being led by the Department of Premier and Cabinet. AMEC expects consultation on drafted legislation soon, as the Government seeks to deliver part of the Vogel McFerran Review’s prior to the March election.

The Vogel McFerran Review was a subject of discussion at the recent AMEC Environment Legislation Forum on 12 June with a panel, including David McFerran presenting on how the review is be delivered.