The commencement of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2021 on 1 July demands the attention of every single mining and mineral exploration company operating in Western Australia.
As the beginning of July approaches AMEC held a forum to ensure members understand the latest information and transition. We also commissioned the drafting of a template Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Management Plan that will be free for industry to use. We are also in the process of building an online resource to provide members with greater information and analysis of what the transition will mean.
AMEC continued speaking with the Department of Premier and Cabinet regarding the ramifications of the new Act on existing arrangements. The government will need to make amendments to Registered Standard Heritage Agreements and the Southwest and Yamatji Settlement.
On May 22, the conclusive registration of the Tjiwarl settlement occurred. This settlement is important for operators in Western Australia as it introduces a substantial increase in the price of land access in the Tjiwarl settlement. The deal was negotiated by the government on behalf of the Western Australian community, without consultation with industry. It includes a payment of 7% in ground expenditure to the Tjiwarl. AMEC has reached out to the government to seek clarification on the methodology on how this percentage was calculated.
A priority for AMEC’s advocacy is to address the legislative issues that have caused the True Fella Warden Court case. AMEC has been calling on the Department to release guidance or a path forward on the necessity of Section 58 Statements, which are not used for compliance, or even reference following the grant. Section 58 Statements are an example of the red tape AMEC seeks to cut. AMEC has also been working with DMIRS (Department of Mining, Industry Regulation and Safety) on guidance that is anticipated to be released in the coming months on no mining conditions. Following the Blue Ribbon Supreme Court decision, which found Matters of Programming Direction could not be used to excise exploration licence tenure, but that ‘no mining conditions’ were appropriate.
In the coming quarter, AMEC considers it likely that the consultation on Part V of the Environmental Protection Act will continue. In late December 2022, AMEC provided input into a series of proposed reforms to modernise and streamline the operations of Part V. It is expected that as this term of government approaches the end, the amount of reform attempted will have to be scaled back from the approach suggested in December 2022.
WorkSafe (Mines Safety) extended the recognition of WHS (Work Health and Safety) Risk Management Units of Competency (UoC) for approved Units completed at RTOs in good standing in WA, to 30 June 2023. AMEC advocated for this extension, as part of an extension to the first-year transition phase of the WHS legislation, applicable to all mineral explorers and miners in WA. This ‘grandfathering’ will apply to all UoCs attained between 1/1/2018 and 30/6/2023. This extension importantly provides industry with additional time to undertake mandatory training while delays to the RTO approval process and statutory examination process are addressed.
Western Australia also saw the resignation of its Premier, the Hon. Mark McGowan MLA after six years as Premier and a total 26-year parliamentary and ministrial career.
Mr McGowan will be remembered for a great many achievements in public life across a long political career.
Our members will especially remember his extraordinary leadership during COVID-19, and his personal commitment to keeping the WA mining and mineral exploration industry open and operating safely.
We wish him and his family all the best as they enter a new chapter.
AMEC has made the following submissions on behalf of member companies:
To learn more please contact Neil van Drunen on 0407 057 443.