18 Jun Mining Legislation Amendment Bill 2015
On 22 April 2015 the government introduced into Parliament the Mining Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 (Bill). The Bill was read a second time but will not be debated until later in the year.
The main change will be the introduction of a dedicated part of the Mining Act 1978 (WA) (Act) that will deal with environmental matters relating to mining. It is said that the new laws will provide the legislative provisions to support the implementation of an outcomes-focused and risk-based regulatory system for environmental regulation and streamline environmental approvals. However, in our view, in reality the intended laws will create more red tape. For example, the holder of a miscellaneous licence will be required to lodge a mining proposal before operating on the licence.
The Bill will also amend section 58 of the Act to prevent successive applications for exploration licences. If a person withdraws an application for an exploration licence, any further application for an exploration licence in respect of the same ground by that person or any related person cannot be dealt with unless the Minister is satisfied there are special circumstances. The definition of related person is quite wide.
The Bill will permit the making of regulations to introduce the concept that the boundaries of a marked out tenement are defined by the pegs in the ground. There is a common belief that this is currently the law. However, the law has been clear for some time that an applicant for a tenement obtains what he is granted by the warden or the Minister and not what the applicant marked out. It will be interesting to see how the regulations attempt to deal with this change.
Finally the Bill will permit the making of regulations to provide wide ranging powers including the power to require any person to answer any question put to that person thus abrogating a person’s right to silence.
The Department of Mines and Petroleum has also announced that it is intended to amend the Mining Regulations 1981 (WA) to introduce an assessment fee in respect of a programme of work ($590) and an assessment fee in respect of a mining proposal ($6,950). We understand that these new fees will come into effect on 1 July 2015.