New guidelines for minerals dissolved in brine

The Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) has produced a new guideline for proponents seeking to apply for a mining lease restricted to minerals derived from brine.
Date: Wednesday, 09 October 2019

In mining terms, brine is groundwater, surface water or sea water that contains minerals in solution. These minerals can include potash, gypsum, halite (salt), iodine, lithium, magnesium and bromine.

Premium potash contains potassium and sulphur, which are key plant nutrients. Increasing global demand for high quality food is driving demand for premium potash fertilisers by producers as they significantly increase crop yields and improve the quality of the food being grown.

In Western Australia, many of the proposed brine mining projects are located on salt lakes in remote areas.

Executive Director Resource Tenure Rick Rogerson said potash brine projects can require tenure over areas up to 20 times bigger than conventional mines. This is needed to gain security over the full extent of the underground brine resource.

For this reason, amendments were made to the Mining Regulations 1981 to include a concessionary rental rate for mining leases, restricted to minerals derived from brine.

“The concessionary rate has been introduced to support the establishment of a potash mining industry in Western Australia by reducing the tenure rental cost for brine mining and make it more comparable with conventional mining,” he said.

“Restricted mining leases and concessionary rates will only be available to those wanting to extract minerals dissolved in brine.”

Proponents should write a concise submission summarising the key points as to why the application should be restricted to minerals derived directly from brine.

The submission should be made to DMIRS at the same time as the mining lease application, or as soon as reasonably practicable after lodgement.

For the mining lease application to be valid, it must be accompanied by the first year’s rent at the standard mining lease rate, as prescribed by the Mining Regulations (item 8, Schedule 2). The difference in rent between the standard mining lease rent rate (item 8) and the concessionary rent rate (item 9), will be refunded to the holder soon after the mining lease restricted to minerals dissolved in brine is granted.

More details can be found on our website.