Welcome to the second edition of the Department of Mines and Petroleum's Environment eNewsletter

Phil Gorey (Executive Director, Environment)

The 2012-13 financial year is here and many exciting challenges continue to present themselves in the environment space. In this issue we take a look at the department's recent activities relating to unconventional gas regulation and stakeholder engagement. You will also find important reminders about records management and native vegetation clearing exemptions. Regular e-news topics such as quarterly performance reports and the status of DMP's electronic lodgement also feature.

Stay tuned for the next edition which will include important updates on the Reforming Environmental Regulation (RER) program, Mine Rehabilitation Fund (MRF) Bill, Golden Gecko Awards and much more. This is your e-news so tell us what topics you'd like featured in future editions. We look forward to your feedback.

Update on unconventional gas regulation: DMP delegation meets with Queensland representatives in Brisbane

In May this year, a delegation of DMP officers travelled to Queensland and met with Queensland Government officers and industry representatives to discuss the regulation and management of unconventional gas activities.

The purpose of the visit was to learn as much as possible from the Queensland experience of managing and regulating unconventional gas activities.

Following the Queensland visit DMP has a good understanding of the key issues and management strategies associated with regulating unconventional gas activities, particularly at a project's development phase. At this time, the unconventional gas sector in Western Australia is only conducting exploration activities, with development of these projects into production facilities not likely for several years. However, DMP continues to liaise with officers from the Queensland Government, as it develops improvements in its regulatory system to ensure that WA has a robust regime in place prior to the development of any unconventional gas production facilities.

Contact: Kim Anderson 9222 3142

DMP encourages diligence in records management

DMP has seen a marked increase in the number of requests for copies of environmental approval documents to be retrieved, copied and sent to mining companies. Some requests have required more than 100 documents. While the department will continue to offer this service to customers, it does impact on the overall efficiency of the Environment Division by directing resources away from other core business, including processing applications for approval.

The department strongly encourages all proponents to maintain comprehensive and secure records of all approval documents, Annual Environmental Reports, Mine Closure Plans and official departmental correspondence. Having an effective records management system also aids due diligence by allowing conditions and commitments in approval documents to be closely tracked, monitored and reported against for compliance.

Update on unconventional gas regulation: Public information sessions held in the Midwest

DMP Petroleum and Environment officers participated in three public information sessions about unconventional gas activities, held in June in Dongara, Eneabba and Gingin.

The information sessions were organised by the local Parliamentary Members for the areas. The primary purpose was to provide the local community with information about the regulation of petroleum activities in WA and an overview of current exploration activities in the local area.

The presentations provided an overview of unconventional gas activities in WA, including the location of potential resources likely to be explored and the current level of activity in the Perth Basin area.

Other key information presented included:

Other speakers from government, industry and research organisations complimented the information provided by DMP.

The presentations were well received by local community members and provided a lot of information which has assisted in community understanding of the legislative and regulatory process that the government has in place for managing petroleum activities in WA.

Contact: Kim Anderson 9222 3142

Understanding clearing permit exemptions

Under the Environmental Protection Act 1986 there are certain clearing activities where the clearing of native vegetation is exempt from a clearing permit. These exemptions are set out in Schedule 6 of the Environmental Protection Act 1986 and Regulation 5 of the Environmental Protection (Clearing of Native Vegetation) Regulations 2004.

An exemption commonly used by industry is the Regulation 5, Item 20 exemption - Clearing: low impact or other mineral or petroleum activities. The department would like to remind the industry to ensure that any clearing of native vegetation undertaken under this exemption is in accordance with the Environmental Protection (Clearing of Native Vegetation) Regulations 2004. For this exemption to be valid there are a number of criteria that need to be met:

All clearing of native vegetation must be undertaken in accordance with a valid clearing permit or exemption. Any unauthorised clearing could lead to penalties of up to $250,000 for individuals or $500,000 for a body corporate.

For any further clarification please consult the Environmental Protection (Clearing of Native Vegetation) Regulations 2004, Native Vegetation Conservation Fact Sheet 5 or contact the Native Vegetation Assessment Branch staff.

Contact: Ryan Mincham 9222 3587

2nd Quarter Approvals Performance Report now available

DMP has published its Approvals Performance Report for the April-June 2012 quarter. This publicly available report contains important information including the total number of applications received and approvals issued, the percentage of approvals processed within target timeframes and the number of applications carried over to the third quarter.

For the second quarter, the following performance targets were reached with respect to environmental approvals:

To access the full report, please click here.

Contact: Kaye Mulligan 9222 3094

Electronic lodgement continues to take hold

Effective 7 June 2012, petroleum environmental applications (Environmental Management Plans, bridging documents, written notifications, Oil Spill Contingency Plans) can now be lodged online following a successful pilot program with a number of petroleum companies.

Proponents can also use EARS Online to lodge and track Mining Proposals with Mine Closure Plans or Standalone Mine Closure Plans.

In August 2012 the department will commence a pilot program to trial online lodgement of Annual Environmental Reports (AERs). The pilot group of resource companies participating in the trial will be asked to provide feedback and conduct testing of the system before it is officially launched, hopefully later in 2012.

Anyone requiring further information or assistance with respect to electronic lodgement and tracking is encouraged to contact the department.

Contact: Kaye Mulligan 9222 3094

Golden Gecko Awards showcase environmental excellence

The 21st annual Golden Gecko Awards for Environmental Excellence, to be held on the 20th September at the Pan Pacific Hotel, is fast approaching. The awards, launched in 1992, recognise excellence and leadership, and acknowledge the outstanding contribution recipients have made to develop WA's resources in a responsible manner. This year seven entries have met the eligibility criteria. To meet the criteria, a project must be related to environmental management in Western Australia's resources sector and must:

A team of environmental officers (the assessment panel) from various government agencies assess each of the eligible entries by attending site visits and presentations. Entries are judged against the Golden Gecko criteria, not each other, so there may be more than one Golden Gecko presented each year. Once all assessments have been undertaken, the assessment panel make recommendations to the selection committee (consisting of independent persons from the resource, community and environment sectors) that has the final decision on Golden Gecko and Certificate of Merit recipients. The awards will be presented on the night by Minister for Mines and Petroleum Norman Moore.

Development of world-first technology in sedimentation scanning led Worley Parsons and Port Headland Port Authority to win the 2011 Golden Gecko Award for Environmental Excellence. Two Certificates of Merit were awarded to ATCO Gas Australia supported by KD1, and also Compass Groups (Australia).

Industry representatives have already started to express interest for the 2013 awards. If you know of a project that may meet the criteria make sure you encourage them to enter for the 22nd Golden Gecko awards before Easter 2013.

For further information on the Golden Gecko awards, please contact the Golden Gecko co-ordinator Richard Smetana on (08) 9222 3639 or by email at Richard.Smetana@dmp.wa.gov.au or by visiting the Golden Gecko webpage at http://www.dmp.wa.gov.au/goldengecko.