Director's foreword: 2012 at a glance

Phil Gorey (Executive Director, Environment)

Phil Gorey (Executive Director, Environment)

2012 has been another eventful year for the Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP). We've worked hard to deliver numerous process and business reforms for the benefit of our stakeholders. In short, there are many highlights when we look back over the year that was.

In February, the department held stakeholder workshops to explore the key issues and objectives of the significant Reforming Environmental Regulation (RER) initiative. Following the consultation, the RER was formally launched on 8 May – with the objective of establishing risk and outcomes-based environmental regulation within DMP. This e-newsletter provides further detail on the RER.

In May, the first edition of the Environment e-newsletter was circulated to all stakeholders, after which time subscription and readership has continued to grow. May also marked the end of paper-based Programme of Work (PoW) applications after a phased transition to online lodgement.

In June, the online lodgement of all petroleum environment proposals was launched. Proponents are also able to lodge and track Mining Proposals submitted with Mine Closure Plans and stand alone Mine Closure Plans online – uptake of which continues to increase.

In August, new petroleum environment regulations were gazetted, including chemical disclosure requirements. DMP published comprehensive guidelines and information sheets to complement the new regulations.

In September, the department held the 21st annual Golden Gecko Awards to recognise environmental excellence in the resources sector. Pendoley Environmental took home the prestigious award.

In October, DMP's recruitment campaign was in full swing to bolster expertise within its Environment Division. Recruitment processes are now being finalised to implement  these new roles by January 2013.

Other highlights came in November, with the Mining Rehabilitation Fund Act 2012 receiving royal assent. This milestone was the culmination of more than two years' extensive stakeholder consultation and substantial work from inside and outside the department. Progress towards implementation of the MRF continues.

November also brought us the online lodgement of Annual Environmental Reports (AERs). You can read more about online AERs in this edition.

This year also saw DMP continue to excel in approvals performance. Ninety eight per cent PoWs were approved within the 30 business day target timeframe in quarters one to three in 2012. Mining Proposals improved throughout the year, increasing from 83 per cent in quarter one to 90 per cent in quarter two and peaking at 96 per cent in the third quarter. Petroleum Environment Plans also averaged out at 98.5 per cent approved within the target timeframe across the first three quarters. We expect similar results when the fourth quarter performance measures are published.

I look forward to seeing similar success in 2013, particularly as we implement the recommendations coming out of the RER process and the transition to the MRF.

I would like to wish you a safe and happy festive season and look forward to working with you in 2013.

Stakeholders provide advice on environmental reform program

The first phase of stakeholder consultation for the RER program is now complete.

Since commencing in July 2012, representatives from government, industry and the community have discussed key issues relating to DMP's environmental reforms. This collaborative process was designed to ensure that key issues from all stakeholders were identified up-front, prior to the substantial commencement of this significant reform program.

Important liaison has occurred at the Ministerial Advisory Panel (MAP) and its four working groups of Compliance, Approvals, Governance and Petroleum.

In November 2012, the four working groups outlined key tools and strategies to the MAP, which then finalised its recommendations to the Minister for Mines and Petroleum.

The Minister will consider the MAP's recommendations in early 2013.

DMP would like to thank all stakeholders involved for their contributions to date.

For more information, including all terms of reference, agendas and minutes from the MAP and Working Group meetings, please visit:

Contact: Simon Skevington - (08) 9222 3632

Mining Rehabilitation Fund Act 2012 passed

On 5 November 2012, the Mining Rehabilitation Fund Act 2012 (MRF Act) received royal assent.

Most holders of mining tenements under the Mining Act 1978 will be required to pay a levy into the special purpose fund, with the exception of tenements covered by State Agreements and tenements with closure liability estimates below a threshold.

The MRF system ensures sufficient funds are available to government, allowing mine sites to be rehabilitated in the event that operators do not fulfil their obligations.

With consultation still underway on the supporting regulations, the commencement date of the MRF Act is yet to be announced.

For more details regarding the operation of the Fund, please visit:

Contact: Simon Skevington (08) 9222 3632

AER online lodgement goes live

The new online system for lodging AERs is now active, with a number of companies already registered and trained to use the program.

The online lodgement of AERs is part of DMP's commitment to improving consistency in data collection, and boosting efficiency and transparency for the department, industry, and public.

In the coming months, we will be contacting all tenement holders who are required to submit an AER, with instructions on how to set up their accounts for online lodgement. We will also be offering training to ensure the transition from hard copy submission to electronic is as smooth as possible.

Contact: John O' Sullivan – (08) 9222 3730

Extension of PoW-E approval timeframes

Environmental Officer completing rehabilitation

The department recently received comments from industry and other stakeholders on the draft Guidelines for Environmentally Responsible Mineral Exploration and Prospecting in Western Australia. In response to this feedback, DMP has extended the standard approval timeframe for Programme of Work – Exploration (POW-E) applications from 12 to 24 months.

This new two year timeframe will provide explorers with more flexibility to plan and conduct exploration campaigns.

The timeframe only applies to the approval of approved activities and does not provide an extension to the timeframe for completing rehabilitation. As usual, rehabilitation of exploration activities is to be completed within six months of ground disturbing works, in accordance with tenement conditions. Extensions to the rehabilitation timeframe may still be sought, with sufficient justification, via a letter to the relevant DMP Environmental Officer.

As a further step, DMP will also be consulting with industry representatives on the draft Guidelines in early 2013.

Programme of Work – Prospecting (PoW-P) approvals currently have a 24 month approval timeframe and this will remain unchanged.

Contact: Adrian Wiley - (08) 9222 3047

Tier two oil spill preparedness – 'Protect Koombana Bay' Exercise

Picture of Koombana Bay

The department participated in the fourth biennial Port Oil Spill Response exercise earlier this year.

Hosted by the Bunbury Port Authority, the large-scale exercise saw teams respond to a staged disaster in Bunbury Harbour – with two vessels colliding, men overboard and a 100 tonne crude oil spill.

This drill involved a full field deployment, as well as the establishment of an incident control centre, and marine, shoreline and wildlife response teams.

The exercise familiarised respondents with key roles in large spills, tested the functionality of State and port oil spill equipment, and informed local and State authorities on preparedness to respond to a spill.

As members of the State Response Team (SRT), DMP's Petroleum Environment Branch was involved with the Incident Management Team (IMT), and also fulfilled team leader and frontline response roles.

Information about the state response team can be found on the Department of Transport website at

Contact: Joel Peters - (08) 9222 3340

Stakeholder engagement in the Pilbara

Picture of Pilbara

In October, DMP officers from the Native Vegetation Assessment Branch travelled to Newman. The team's aim was to provide a presentation to Shire of East Pilbara councillors and staff about the native vegetation clearing permit process administered under the Environmental Protection Act 1986.

The visit allowed DMP to build upon its relationship with key stakeholders and promote a better understanding of the clearing permit process and the environmental issues considered in the assessment of clearing. Given the significant amount of mining activity within the Pilbara, particular interest was given to the measures DMP uses to assess, manage and mitigate the potential cumulative impacts of clearing.

DMP officers also told presentation attendees that transparency is a defining aspect of the clearing permit process, with all applications advertised for public comment.

Given that submissions received during comment periods have the potential to delay assessment processes, DMP encourages all proponents to liaise with relevant stakeholders as early as possible. This enables concerns to be raised and addressed prior to the lodgement of applications. Effective stakeholder engagement can minimise the potential for lengthy delays during the assessment process. DMP also recommends that any correspondence with relevant stakeholders be included as supporting information to the clearing permit application.

Information on the clearing permit process, application checklists and other relevant clearing permit information can be found on the DMP website at

Contact: Matt Boardman (08) 9222 3589