It has been another busy period for the Department of Mines and Petroleum as evidenced by the number of achievements featured in this latest edition of the DMP eNews.
We are one step closer to harmonised mining regulations throughout WA, QLD and NSW, and departmental staff have been involved in the new model regulations through membership of the National Mine Safety Framework (NMSF) Non-Core Legislative Working Group.
At this stage, the National Mine Safety Framework is expected to be finalised in 2013.
The department also recently announced the implementation of a resourced and consultative Reforming Environmental Regulation (RER) program, which will fully integrate a risk-based approach to achieve best practice in regulatory services.
DMP's RER program will address the delivery of its environmental regulatory services and its interface with other regulators to remove any duplication. Another recent activity as part of the department's continuous improvement process is the introduction of new environmental and resource management regulations under the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources Act 1967.
The Petroleum Environment Regulations aim to ensure petroleum and geothermal operations are carried out in accordance with best industry practice and ecologically sustainable development.
This edition of the DMP eNews also features a number of recent appointments, the overhaul of the State's mine bonds system, the commencement of an Exploration Incentive Scheme (EIS) funded seismic survey near Esperance, plus lots more.
Finally we end this edition with a number of awards received by departmental staff in areas as diverse as mine safety, human resources and Aboriginal heritage.
It is satisfying that the department has award winning people working for it, and these awards are testimony to the high quality of work being achieved within DMP.
Director General, Department of Mines and Petroleum
A National Mine Safety Framework (NMSF) working group has met for the last time in Sydney, before the proposed new model regulations are finalised.
The NMSF Non-Core Legislative Working Group â€“ which includes staff from the Department of Mines and Petroleum's (DMP) Resources Safety Division (RSD) â€“ discussed the final stages of the drafting instructions in late July.
The proposed regulations would apply to the three major mining states of Western Australia, New South Wales and Queensland.
"The independent chair will now finalise the non-core drafting instructions and set up the modis operandi for the Tri-State Competency Advisory Committee (TCAC)," said the department's State Mining Engineer and RSD Executive Director Simon Ridge.
"The outputs from this work will provide WA with the basis for developing new regulations for what will be Chapter 10 in the package."
WorkSafe WA is also currently embarking on a regulatory impact statement (RIS) that seeks input from industry stakeholders across WA.
"It is very important for mining sector stakeholders to take part in this process," Mr Ridge said.
"In the interests of harmonisation across all WA workplaces, the regulations developed by the RIS process will be mirrored within the mining regulations, to address mine site activities."
Mr Ridge added it was important to remember that the mining specific requirements within Chapter 10 of the new regulations would be subject to a separate RIS process.
"This process will be managed by DMP, following the completion of the WorkSafe WA process," he said.
"The idea is that the mining sector stakeholders will receive the proposed general regulations, so they can evaluate the impact of the whole regulation package on their activities.
"However it should be made absolutely clear that it is unlikely that any significant changes will be allowed for the general regulations that will form chapters one to nine of the package.
"This is because they will have been finalised during the RIS process."
Mr Ridge was quick to point out though that the current regulation of the WA resources industry was already robust.
"We're continually looking at ways to improve upon our high safety regulation standards but, I have to say, regulation is already extremely strong here in WA," he said, noting DMP was in its third year of a five-year Reform and Development at Resources Safety strategy, known as RADARS.
The strategy allows the department's Resources Safety Division to more effectively oversee safety and support the necessary cultural change within industry.
Thanks to the strategy, the department has been able to recruit more safety inspectors.
Since the implementation of RADARS in 2009, 50 inspectors have been hired â€“ with nearly half of this total in 2011.
The department aims to appoint four petroleum inspectors, along with three more mines inspectors, later this year.
To date, general occupational health and safety model regulations have been finalised for all workplaces as part of the NMSF, while all jurisdictions have agreed to core model regulations.
At this stage, the National Mine Safety Framework is expected to be finalised in 2013.
In May the Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) announced the implementation of a resourced and consultative Reforming Environmental Regulation (RER) program, which will fully integrate a risk based approach to achieve best practice in regulatory services.
Regulatory approvals reform is a priority for State and Commonwealth environmental regulators. DMP's RER program will address the delivery of its environmental regulatory services and its interface with other regulators to remove any duplication.
The implementation of the RER program will align with, and complement, approvals reform by other State and Commonwealth agencies, and at the whole-of-government level.
The objective of the RER program is to implement the principles of best practice regulation of the resources sector to ensure environmental integrity is maintained.
Through establishing a risk and outcome based regulatory framework, DMP will ensure its regulatory effort is targeted and proportionate, such that regulatory effort protects environmental values in an effective, efficient and timely manner.
DMP will undertake ongoing monitoring and evaluation of key performance indicators to complement a risk based approach by ensuring resources have been appropriately allocated to minimise environmental risk.
The department will administer a risk based regulatory framework in accordance with the principles of best practice government administration â€“ accountability; transparency; predictability; proportionate and targeted.
When it comes to introducing reforms at the Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP), one man knows better than most the kind of work this involves â€“ Reform Project Director Simon Skevington.
After spending the past two years focussing on the department’s safety reforms and the transition to the new commonwealth offshore petroleum regulator, Mr Skevington has shifted his attention to the department’s environmental reform program.
The Reforming Environmental Regulation (RER) program kicked off in May this year and, despite the obvious differences between environmental and safety regulation, Mr Skevington can see plenty of common ground.
“There are a lot of similarities,” he said.
“Both have featured Ministerial Advisory Panels (MAP) to get input from our stakeholders and will have needed important changes to legislation.”
However, according to Mr Skevington there will be additional challenges associated with the environmental reforms.
“The big difference was that in safety all our stakeholders were committed to getting a better safety outcome for the industry and its workers,” he said.
“It was very clear what was safe and what was not."
“I feel that these reforms will be a little harder as there appears to be a degree of tension between industry and environmental groups about outcomes."
“Ensuring we have effective discussions and agreed outcomes is going to be very challenging.”
The scale of the RER program will also be a considerable challenge for Mr Skevington and the department.
“Timing is an issue, particularly as we have an election coming up and the imminent retirement of our Minister. He has been a very big supporter of this work.”
Despite the challenges ahead, the reforms are a vital part of improving environmental regulation in Western Australia.
“There will be a number of benefits from these reforms,” he said.
“Firstly, there will be clearer approvals processes. This means industry and the regulator both know what is expected, and the community has greater confidence in our capacity to regulate."
“Compliance reform will provide better tools and processes for us to ensure industry is doing the right thing. These will be clear, consistent and used regularly to ensure we establish a good culture within industry."
“While funding through the Mining Rehabilitation Fund will allow us to actually get out and clean up the priority sites where the State is liable.”
Mr Skevington is particularly excited about the potential scope of these reforms.
“I think we are only looking at the tip of the iceberg with this fund,” he said.
“It has the capacity to be much more and potentially change the way we do business.”
The reforms clearly point to an exciting period of change for the department, however, he is realistic with the length of time it takes to initiate such a dramatic change.
“Reform does not happen overnight,” he said.
“It is a dynamic cultural change that needs to evolve through changing direction where appropriate to achieve a process of continuous improvement.”
Whatever challenges are ahead, Mr Skevington’s experience with the department’s safety reforms has prepared him for the reform road ahead.
“I did not come from a safety background â€¦ so I spent a lot of time asking questions,” he said.
“From a positive point, it helped me in my discussion with stakeholders because I could ask them questions without having any historical preconceived ideas.“
He said the experience gave him a lot of satisfaction.
“From a personal and professional sense it took me out of my comfort zone as it was so different from what I had done before,” he said.
“It was good to work on something that will change safety in the industry for the better.”
The support Mr Skevington received during the reforms played a vital part in its success.
“I was very lucky to have a good Director General in Richard (Sellers) that supported what I needed to do and helped me to build a small but effective team,” he said.
“The whole process was a team effort across a number of different areas within the department.”
He is sure that the same team effort will be an important part of the department’s environmental reforms.
“We are an experienced team and have a lot of corporate knowledge,” he said.
“I think that most of the networks that we have been able to develop during the safety reform process will also help us in this process."
“We are certainly looking forward to the challenge.”
One of the most recent activities as part of the Department of Mines and Petroleum's (DMP) continuous process improvement is the introduction of new environmental and resource management regulations under the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources Act 1967.
The Petroleum Environment Regulations, which are expected to be gazetted by the end of August, aim to ensure petroleum and geothermal operations are carried out in accordance with best industry practice and ecologically sustainable development.
A key approval document for the petroleum and gas industry is the Environment Plan, which must demonstrate that environmental impacts are reduced to as low as is reasonably practicable.
The department has identified the need to improve public transparency for unconventional gas decision-making.
This objective is reflected in a key element of the regulations, which mandates public disclosure of any chemicals introduced into a well or formation, which will be made available on the DMP website.
The regulations also increased reporting requirements, with monthly reporting against Environment Plans performance objectives. In addition, Environment Plans are required to be revised by the operator every five years.
The Resource Management and Administration Regulations are anticipated to be available for public comment in the second half of 2012.
The changes follow an independent review of the regulatory framework for unconventional gas activities in WA in 2011 that include shale, tight and coal seam gas.
Conducted by petroleum law expert Dr Tina Hunter, the review concluded that although the current regulatory processes are stringent and supported by skilled and dedicated staff, further strengthening was required to improve legal enforceability.
The report recommended the introduction of new environmental and resource management regulations.
To guide this process DMP established a government interagency working group comprising the State Government Departments of Water, Environment and Conservation, Health, Agriculture and Food, and the Office of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).
The EPA will continue to work with DMP, which it considers is well-placed to manage the issues associated with the industry, to ensure the community and industry have appropriate information and guidance.
The changes reinforce a Western Australian Government commitment to a regulatory regime that ensures responsible development of gas resources, while protecting the environment, groundwater resources and public health.
DMP regulates onshore petroleum activities through the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources Act 1967, the Petroleum Pipelines Act 1969 and the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act 1982.
The DMP website contains simple, reliable and accurate facts about unconventional gas in Western Australia.
Material available includes fact sheets, current drilling projects, useful links, guidelines and reports: www.dmp.wa.gov.au/onshoregas
The unconventional gas industry, regulated in WA by DMP, is in the very early exploration phase, with current activities categorised as small scale ‘proof of concept’ proposals.
Unconventional gas describes shale, tight and coal seam gases, which differ from conventional natural gas as the gas cannot move through the reservoir rock formation. This prevents the gas from flowing freely through the rock to allow recovery.
The rock requires hydraulic fracture stimulation (known as fraccing) to allow the gas to be released. Unconventional gas resources have been known around the world for decades.
Advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracture stimulation technology in the past two decades have made unconventional gas commercially viable.
However, potential commercial developments in WA are a number of years away from consideration, which provides the State with an opportunity to understand the resource and make necessary changes to strengthen regulation, building on the experience in other parts of the world.
A 2011 report released by the US Energy Information Agency (EIA) estimated that Western Australia holds an estimated 288 trillion cubic feet of shale gas resources.
This estimate is more than double the amount of identified natural gas reserves and resources in WA adjacent offshore areas.
One trillion cubic feet of gas is enough energy to supply a city of one million people with electricity for 20 years.
WA currently produces around one trillion cubic feet of gas per year for export and domestic gas supply.
In addition to shale gas, conservative estimates for tight gas resources in the Perth Basin, indicate that up to 12 trillion cubic feet of tight gas could be recovered in that basin alone.
It should be noted that Western Australia has no known, potentially commercial, coal seam gas resources because of the State’s geology and character of its coals.
This limits Western Australia’s exposure to issues of high volumes of produced water and associated salt disposal confronting overseas and eastern Australia coal seam gas production.
The State Government will establish a new fund to replace the previous environmental bonds system for mine rehabilitation in Western Australia.
The new Mining Rehabilitation Fund (MRF) will require operators to make annual contributions based on a percentage of their total closure liabilities, which will go into a pooled Government-administered fund.
Mines and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore said the State Government recognised the current bond system needed overhaul to ensure adequate funding was available for mine site rehabilitation where operators failed to meet their environmental obligations.
“I am confident the proposed fund will provide a more flexible and cost effective system for industry, while meeting public expectations for higher standards of rehabilitation and mine closure,” Mr Moore said.
The Minister said bonds would only be retained for some high risk operations.
“The Department of Mines and Petroleum has conducted extensive consultation and research to establish the new fidelity fund which will substantially reduce costs for tax payers and also provide some opportunity to address some historical legacy sites,” he said.
The Bill to introduce the fund was read into State Parliament on 15 August 2012.
Mr Moore said the fund was an important part of the department’s Reforming Environmental Regulation (RER) program.
“The RER program will help deliver greater certainty, confidence and clarity surrounding the environmental regulatory system and strengthen the enforcement capacity of the department,” he said.
“As part of the reform process a Ministerial Advisory Panel was established, which will be chaired by former State Government Environment Minister Cheryl Edwardes and is made up of representatives from industry, government agencies and non-government organisations. Four working groups will report to the panel."
For more information go to http://www.dmp.wa.gov.au/RER
Department of Mines and Petroleum Director General Richard Sellers visited Kuala Lumpur for the first Asian Mining and Energy Investment Forum (AMEI) earlier this July.
Around 200 delegates from around the world were in attendance, eager for investment opportunities and information on mining industries.
DMP attendance and participation in the forum was not only an excellent occasion for panning out new potential investors, but an opportunity to share some key information about mining in WA.
“The tradeshow was well attended with a steady flow of interest in the DMP stand,” Mr Sellers said. “Gold and Energy metals were of major interest.”
The Director General also gave several presentations that were well received by the attendees: “The Resource and Energy potential for Western Australia” and “Innovations in Environment and Safety Regulation in WA.”
He was also on a panel with Mines and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore, along with the head of Noble Resources, and fielded questions from the 25 media outlets in attendance.
Throughout the forum, a reoccurring theme appeared regarding investors considering Islamic money as a potential opportunity.
“The presentations highlighted the opportunity for investors to access Islamic money through the event â€“ as this money does not traditionally flow through the Hong Kong or Singapore capital markets,” said Mr Sellers.
“The feeling was that there is significant interest in investing in the resource sector, and that this form may grow into an excellent alternate capital investor (Islamic money), opportunity for investment-ready Australian projects.”
In May, seismic surveys commenced near Esperance to provide data in the search for better geological understanding and further resources in the region.
Funded by the State Government’s Royalties for Regions Exploration Incentive Scheme (EIS), the Albany-Fraser Orogen deep crustal seismic reflection survey will provide imaging that will help define prospective areas.
The surveys are being coordinated by the Department of Mines and Petroleum’s (DMP) Geological Survey of WA (GSWA).
A subsequent line will follow the Trans Australia Railway Access Road as far east as Haig, with a shorter fourth line being surveyed near AngloGold Ashanti’s Tropicana gold deposit.
“Understanding the structure of the old pieces of crust that have been stuck together as the Australian continental plate assembled can provide clues to finding sites that form major mineral deposits,” GSWA Chief Geoscientist Roger Hocking said.
“We’re trying to see how the Earth’s crust is joined together down in the area between Esperance and the northwestern edge of the Nullarbor, up near the Tropicana gold discovery."
“There are a couple of major fractures in the Earth’s crust along there, joining quite different types of crust. These fractures commonly focus and carry fluids from the Earth’s mantle up through the crust, to form major mineral deposits,” he said.
Mr Hocking said understanding the basic structure of the Earth allows for more intelligent exploration for resources.
The Yilgarn Craton margin contains significant gold resources such as Tropicana, and understanding its geometry will help define prospective areas.
Seismic reflection data is generated by vibrating the ground using three large specialised trucks in-line. Seismic waves travel down through the Earth and are reflected from surfaces and fault structures that mark changes in rock type.
“Geophones spread out along the survey line record the return of the reflected seismic waves; the seismic waves take longer to return from deeper reflectors,” Mr Hocking said.
“As the survey progresses an image is built up that is a vertical slice through the crust. Listening for up to 20 seconds at each recording point allows us to ‘see’ through the base of the crust and into the mantle.”
He said while the surveys were being conducted there will be some speed restrictions in place to 60kmh for safety reasons.
“There will be a 25km length of road where the restrictions will apply, but these will change on a daily basis as the survey progresses.”
The survey commenced near Condingup, about 70kms east of Esperance, before moving to Kambalda and then east along the Trans Line to Haig over a three week period.
The acquisition and interpretation of the seismic reflection data is being managed by Geoscience Australia (GA) and by ANSIR, the Canberra-based National Research Facility for Earth Sounding, under the National Geoscience Agreement.
It represents one of a series of deep crustal seismic reflection surveys that are being collected across Australia as part of the National GeoTransect Program to build up a three dimensional image of the Australian continent, and its evolution through time.
A Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) workforce planning tool is assisting the agency to recruit specialist staff to implement major safety reform in the resources sector.
Developed over two years by the department's internal HR staff, the workforce planning tool is now being promoted by the Public Sector Commission (PSC) to all State Government agencies through its website.
DMP has implemented the tool to outline the strategies and initiatives required to attract and retain a capable, efficient and effective workforce with the capacity to deliver high quality services.
The Workforce Plans prioritise action to identify gaps or possible surplus resources, including strategies to meet recruitment targets to implement major occupational safety and health reform in the resources sector.
One strategy the department has developed is performance-based payment arrangements to enable the agency to offer competitive salaries to attract resource sector safety professionals.Â
The success of recent recruitment campaigns, which has resulted in the appointment of specialist safety inspectors, has provided the department with positive outcomes supporting the co-ordinated Workforce Planning approach.
The department's Workforce Planning has also highlighted other areas for the department to focus on, including succession planning, initiatives to address diversity and building leadership capability.
Workforce Planning is strongly aligned with the department's strategic, operational and individual employee's work development plan (WDP) processes, and is used in all division's across the department.
This includes the successful launch recently of a new electronic WDP system for employees.
The new system allows a more streamlined, time efficient process through data automation and provides a tool for identifying learning and development needs for current roles, future roles and career planning.
Norseman has a new Mining Registrar, with the Department of Mines and Petroleum’s (DMP) Tony Rees now in town.
As one of five Mining Registrars across the Goldfields, Mr Rees has already processed dozens of mining tenement applications for sites located between Lake Johnston, Norseman and Esperance.
He previously worked in title services officer and tenure officer roles in DMP’s Kalgoorlie office since 2005.
Each year the Norseman office processes hundreds of mining tenement applications, queries and associated matters, so he has certainly got his work cut out for him.
“Not only do I handle mining tenement applications, I also field a wide range of enquiries regarding mining leases, prospecting, miscellaneous and exploration licenses â€“ which is great,” said Mr Rees.
However, the top job also requires court matters to be attended to, under a service agreement with the Western Australian Department of Justice.
Mr Rees and his customer service officer handle everything from processing fines, restraining orders, birth, death and marriage certificates, and countless other general enquiries.
“Norseman courthouse is actually located in the department’s building, so we liaise closely with the Department of Justice on all local court matters,” he said.
His 45-year career has spanned a variety of sectors across Western Australia, Zimbabwe and South Africa â€“ including the public sector, architecture and armed forces.
He said he thoroughly enjoyed working with local explorers, miners and prospectors.
“We all know the WA mining sector makes a huge contribution to the national economy and the Goldfields is a big part of this,” he said.
DMP Executive Director for Mineral Titles Ivor Roberts said this latest appointment would bolster the division’s expertise in regional WA.
“We are delighted to have someone like Tony move across from Kalgoorlie and manage the Norseman office,” said Mr Roberts.
“I am confident he will strike the right balance in Norseman, when it comes to encouraging exploration and mining, and policing operators and prospectors.”
Mines safety was given a major boost in July, after four new mines inspectors were appointed at the Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP).
Three of these new mines inspectors are covering the Northwest, while another was assigned to the Southwest.
The inspectors come from varying backgrounds, sharing expertise in the geotechnical, mechanical, process engineering and mining engineering fields.
DMP’s Resources Safety Executive Director Simon Ridge said these appointments marked another major achievement in the department’s commitment towards resources safety, under theReform and Development at Resources Safety (RADARS) strategy.
“These new inspectors have completed an intensive training program, so I am confident they will uphold high standards,” Mr Ridge said.
“Now they can focus on really making a difference to safety in the mining sector.
“Their main aim will be to support the necessary cultural change within industry â€“ encouraging industry operators to keep safety a top priority at all times.”
Since the implementation of RADARS, 50 inspectors have been hired â€“ nearly half of this total in 2011.
The department aims to appoint four petroleum inspectors, along with three more mines inspectors, later this year.
Meanwhile, DMP is currently recruiting five mines inspectors to fill vacant positions.
Western Australia’s State Mining Engineer will step into the role of executive director for Resources Safety following the position being vacated by his predecessor after a decade of service.
Simon Ridge was promoted from his current role as director of Mines Safety on the retirement of Malcolm Russell.
Mines and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore said the appointment was very fitting as Mr Ridge had been a central figure at the Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) for the past 16 years.
“While Mr Russell was instrumental in driving resources safety reform in WA and establishing the RADARS strategy in 2009, Mr Ridge has been involved alongside him throughout the implementation process,” he said.
“Now he’ll be able to expand his focus in this new position, covering minerals and petroleum.”
The State Government has taken significant steps in the past two years to reform resources safety for the WA mining industry, introducing a cost recovery system to help improve capacity and increase the number of mines inspectors.
The reforms were the State Government’s response to needs identified in independent reviews and inquiries, such as the 2009 Kenner Review of the Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994, and a spate of mining fatalities.
“The Western Australian Government is committed to overhauling the way safety and health in the resources industry are regulated and this appointment will ensure a smooth transition to continue the mines safety work under way and implement reforms proposed for the petroleum sector,” the Minister said.
“I wish Mr Russell all the best for his retirement after 10 years at the helm and I thank him for his determination and efforts over the past two years in particular in strengthening safety regulation in the mining sector, and I look forward to working with Mr Ridge to implement changes that will help extend that across the whole industry in years to come.”
Mr Ridge will continue in the role of State Mining Engineer while he heads up the Resources Safety Division.
Within the first three months of its creation, the Department of Mining and Petroleum’s (DMP) specialised project team have successfully achieved a five per cent reduction in Mining Lease Applications (MLA) that have been stalled prior to 2009.
The initiative to push through tenement applications, stalled in the Right to Negotiate (RtN) process, was prioritised to better comply with the Mining Act 1978.
As the act encourages exploration and development, having more than 500 applications stagnant for over 10 years was problematic.
The special project team from Mineral Titles is made up of three senior project officers and various officers who provide support as needed. Earlier in March, three National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT) specialists were also brought on board to assist with the applications review.
The process was intensive, as it required an individual audit of each application. The team members would ensure all data entered was correct and pinpoint the application section that caused it to stall.
Prioritisation criteria were assigned to each application and the team came to a consensus on what specific measures would be needed for each to move ahead.
In some cases, letters were sent to applicants, advising them of their options to proceed. For other contentious applications, the NNTT specialists gave advice on those to be forwarded for settlement through mediation services.
Aside from the audits, the Senior Project Managers are becoming even more actively involved in the mediation process. Armed with recent negotiation skills training, team members have more of a voice in the mediation proceedings.
“These skills were designed for [the team] to be able to speak up,” said Mineral Titles Manager Mike Wilde.
“The government has a duty to negotiate in good faith and progress matters as quickly as we can, and our people now have additional skills to participate more actively.”
The team also developed a manuals, guidelines, policies and procedures to further assist its members throughout the Right to Negotiate process.
At present, all stalled mining lease applications are being actively managed. The group projects a 30 per cent reduction by the 31 December 2012. They are also confident a further 30 per cent reduction can be achieved by 31 December 2013.
The team also looks towards a foreseeable future where the entire backlog can be cleared.
Their sights will then be set on applying their process to other areas. In the case of Exploration License Applications, their process could be used to ensure progression of any applications that may have been lost in the expedited procedure.
A new research institute promoting mineral research in Western Australia will be established following an injection of $7.5million in funding in the State Government's 2012-13 Budget.
Mines and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore said the initiative would focus on researching new technologies that fostered improved exploration techniques and promoted new processing methods.
“This research will promote the long-term international competitiveness of WA’s minerals industry through innovation, increased productivity and investment attraction,” Mr Moore said.
“WA is a world leader in the resources industry and the sector’s importance to the State’s economy is well known, however it is vital the Government invest in research for the future benefit of all West Australians.”
Mr Moore said the new institute would continue the work of the existing Minerals and Energy Research Institute of WA (MERIWA) scholarship program, building on its achievements.
“The institute will provide a better resourced organisation with stronger governance and board arrangements to oversee the research programs. We have representatives from industry and universities on the board to ensure research programs target and deliver long-term benefits for WA’s resources sector,” he said.
“The mining sector is a finite industry and its long-term survival depends on the discovery of new resources and the development of new technologies.
“These new technologies will play a vital role in making previously uneconomic deposits attractive to industry and the establishment of this Institute represents a strategic model to support the future sustainability of the State’s minerals industry by managing and targeting minerals research in WA.”
The $7.5 million allocated in the 2012-13 Budget is for a period of three years commencing in 2013-14.Â
It is expected the enhanced governance and industry engagement will target a healthy ratio of private to public investment.
The State’s investment in minerals research is vital. The mining industry is the largest contributor to the Western Australian economy representing 28 per cent of gross state product and accounting for almost 80 per cent of the value of the State’s resource sector sales.Â
Western Australia’s peak resources representative body the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of WA (CME) has welcomed the State Government commitment to mineral research.
CME Chief Executive Reg Howard-Smith said the future of the resources sector depended on innovation in exploration, mining, processing and rehabilitation.
“Investment in minerals research will help ensure the longevity of the WA resources sector so it can continue to support the community and wider-economy,” Mr Howard-Smith said.
“The government is to be congratulated for this investment as it will extend and optimise economic returns to the State from the minerals industry by ensuring current and future knowledge and technology needs are met through a strategically directed R&D program.
“Western Australia is well known for its vast natural resource endowment, our commitment to the highest environmental standards and world class mining techniques. The announcement will cement WA as a world leader in minerals research and is a much needed boost to our international competitiveness.
“Investing in research shows confidence in the resources sector and gives future projects a better chance of being delivered.
“CME has worked extensively with the State Government and other stakeholders to understand the future knowledge and technology needs of the minerals industry in Western Australia.
“We now look forward to working with the State Government to develop the model through which to deliver this.”
The State Government has committed $1.33million to build multi-purpose government offices to replace the Mount Magnet Registrar's Office.
Mines and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore said the new modern building would continue to provide vital services to the Western Australian mining community, as well as other services by the Department of Transport, Department of the Attorney General, Western Australian Electoral Commission and Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor.
"Mount Magnet is an important regional office that is conveniently located at a close proximity to mine sites in the State's Mid-West and Gascoyne region," Mr Moore said.
"A presence in Mount Magnet meets the needs of the local community with prospecting, exploration and operations anticipated to continue into the future.
"The 115sqm of office space will also enable other services, such as such as licensing functions on behalf of the Department of Transport, and court administration activities and paperwork for the Department of the Attorney General."
The funding was announced in the government's 2012-13 State Budget.
An interagency project that is improving the accuracy of the register of Aboriginal heritage sites was recognised as a finalist in a recent awards ceremony.
The Aboriginal heritage project, a joint effort between the Department of Mines and Petroleum and the Department of Indigenous Affairs, was a finalist in the WA Institute of Public Administration achievement awards.
The project was a finalist in the Practice in Collaboration â€“ across government agencies in the same jurisdiction category.
Department of Mines and Petroleum Director General Richard Sellers said the nomination was recognition for the two departments involved in the project.
“Improving the accuracy of the Aboriginal Heritage Register has increased the level of protection of these sites in Western Australia,” Mr Sellers said.
“During the 1960s and 70s the State Government identified areas important to Aboriginal heritage across Western Australia.
“However, the boundaries of some large sites introduced an element of uncertainty for some development project proposals, with the uncertainty impacting on stakeholder relationships.”
The Aboriginal Heritage Project addressed this issue by reviewing all large site boundaries to improve the accuracy of registered Aboriginal heritage sites.
“As a result the Aboriginal community is now more confident that the register more accurately reflects actual site boundaries, reducing potential conflict between land developers and Aboriginal communities,” Mr Sellers said.
“It also provides more certainty for mineral and petroleum tenement holders as the spatial boundaries of heritage sites are more clearly identified.”
The project involved a review of 531 historical Aboriginal heritage sites which resulted in a reduced area of 13,380 square kilometres, while one site increased from 100 sq km to 5415 sq km.
The project was initiated by DMP’s Aboriginal Heritage Working Group as part of the department’s approvals reform program.
The project was funded through DMP’s Exploration Incentive Scheme as a part of the State Government’s Royalties for Regions.
The winner of the award was the Department of Corrective Services Regional Youth Justice Services project.
Two senior DMP officers have been recent recipients of prestigious awards in their respective fields.
State Mining Engineer and Executive Director for Resources Safety Simon Ridge was presented with the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy's (AusIMM) Jim Torlach Health and Safety Award.
Mr Ridge's award was for his outstanding contribution to safety and reform in the Western Australian mining industry.
He has helped implement significant changes as part of the department's Reform and Development at Resources Safety Strategy (RADARS), which supports cultural change across industry.
As part of the strategy, Mr Ridge oversaw the appointment of 25 additional mines safety inspectors at DMP during 2010-11.
He has also been nominated for the Next Generation Mining Australia Summit's Occupational Health and Safety Leader of 2012 Award.
Meanwhile, DMP's Human Resources General Manager Carol Fuller took out the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) Award, and was recognised for revolutionising the way DMP manages HR.
Ms Fuller was named as the IPAA HR Practitioner of the Year, and was instrumental in establishing the department's new Attraction and Retention Incentive (ARI) program, which ensures appropriate remuneration is on offer to recruit and retain experienced employees.
Mines and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore congratulated Mr Ridge on his efforts.
"It is a great achievement, not just for Simon, but for everyone who works in the mining industry which will be safer because of the work he has driven," Mr Moore said.
"Not only has he managed the recruitment of qualified and experienced safety staff, he has also designed and overseen new inspector induction programs and introduced a new team concept tailored to suit the State's diverse and geographically dispersed mining."
DMP Director General Richard Sellers congratulated both Mr Ridge and Ms Fuller for their respective awards.
"It is satisfying that the department has award winning people working for it, and these awards are testimony to the high quality of work being achieved within DMP," Mr Sellers said.