The final quarter of this year has been incredibly busy with a lot of policy issues and guidelines out for public comment. I would like to thank everyone that has taken the time to review and comment on these documents. This greatly assists us in implementing solutions that will genuinely assist our stakeholders.
One key policy issue has been partial cost reflective pricing for environmental regulation. In September 2014, we sought comments on various options, and we received a range of submissions from industry groups, companies and individuals which have assisted in modifying the original proposal. Our response to these submissions is available on our website. Arising from this process, we are now preparing the necessary regulations to introduce application fees for Mining Proposals and Programmes of Work. It is planned that these fees will be in place by 1 July 2015. The Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) has decided not to proceed with an annual compliance fee that was proposed in the September 2014 consultation paper.
Although it received little media attention, the Auditor General’s recent tabling in Parliament of his “Ensuring Compliance with Conditions on Mining - Follow-up” audit report is a significant event for the regulation of the mining industry in Western Australia. This report was tabled in November, and considered how well DMP and other State agencies had implemented recommendations from a 2011 Auditor General report. Like DMP, many of the other State agencies involved in the audit can be proud of the report card. In conclusion the Auditor General stated;
“Overall, these changes [implemented by the various agencies] evidence a commitment to improvement across agencies. Many of the changes will take time to bed in and for their full impact to be assessed. Nonetheless, Parliament can be much more assured now than three years ago that the State has a reliable view of compliance with conditions, will be better protected from liabilities, and is securing the returns it seeks from mining."
The Auditor General’s report particularly recognised the positive outcomes of the MRF and the RER initiatives. The demonstrated confidence of the Auditor General in DMP’s environmental regulatory reform initiative is a positive outcome for the community, stakeholders and industry. A copy of the Auditor General’s report.
A key component of this edition of eNews is a detailed summary of what we have achieved to date in our reform program. Of course this is only a beginning. We confidently expect many more changes following legislative amendments next year that will provide significant benefits to both the environment and industry.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a happy and safe holiday period and I look forward to working with you all in 2015.
Dr Phil Gorey
Executive Director Environment
The Department of Mines and Petroleum is leading a consortium of government and industry stakeholders to evaluate rehabilitation activities in mined landscapes of the Pilbara region. The project seeks to identify ways to improve the effectiveness of rehabilitation activities in the important Pilbara region, and particularly look at ways for improved collaboration.
The Environmental Protection Authority have previously reported that it had been estimated that perceived best practice rehabilitation of mined landscapes in the Pilbara achieves a return of less than 15 per cent of the pre-mined biodiversity values [EPA Annual Report 2012/13].
The project will focus on the results achieved by rehabilitation and monitoring activities undertaken in the Pilbara, the obstacles that may hinder rehabilitation success, and the guidance material that is currently available. The project will also examine the effectiveness of the regulation of rehabilitation and monitoring activities by government.
Enabling a high level of stakeholder engagement is a key objective of the Pilbara Rehabilitation Project. Stakeholders will be invited to participate during briefings and workshops to be scheduled in 2015.
Any queries or feedback pertaining to the Pilbara Rehabilitation Project may be directed to Danielle Risbey on (08) 9222 3593 or email@example.com
Fraser Range, located approximately 250km south-east of Kalgoorlie, is an exploration ‘hot spot’ in Western Australia.
Historically, the primary target in the area has been gold. However, companies such as Sirius Resources, Ponton Minerals Pty Ltd, Matsa Resources Limited, Enterprise Metals and Sheffield Resources are drawing attention to the potential for nickel–copper development in the region.
With a large number of companies actively exploring, the Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) has identified the area as a priority for environmental inspections.
During September 2014, the DMP Kalgoorlie-Goldfields Environmental Team undertook a four day environmental inspection campaign of exploration activities in the area. During the four days, many tenements were inspected against Mining Act 1978 approval documents and tenement conditions.
Overall, the environmental management and rehabilitation was of a high standard. The good rehabilitation practices observed in the majority of the areas inspected were:
Some areas for improvement were identified during the inspection, however all companies have worked well with DMP Environmental Officers to ensure that all current and future exploration areas are rehabilitated to DMP’s standards.
DMP would especially like to congratulate Sirius Resources on the high standard of rehabilitation that has occurred to date on exploration activities associated with the Nova Project.
The Fraser Range campaign is intended to become part of our annual program and DMP hopes to see this high standard of environmental management maintained by all companies.
The inspection campaign doubled as a valuable learning and development opportunity for members of the Kalgoorlie-Goldfields Team. Practical opportunities to develop technical and leadership skills form a vital part of the of the department’s commitment to the Reforming Environmental Regulation program, supporting individual development and building organisational capacity.
The Department of Mines and Petroleum and the Department of Water are currently working together to prepare environmental guidance material for in-stream mining activities.
There are currently 68 project sites in Western Australia where mining of sand, gravel and shingle occur in the bed of a river channel. Basic raw materials are of importance to the Western Australian economy as they are essential components of construction materials and are used in the majority of construction projects, including buildings, roads, bridges and airports. However, if not well managed, extraction of river sediment has the potential to impact seriously on many aspects of the riverine environment.
The intention of the inter-agency working group is to develop guidance to ensure that sand, gravel and shingle extraction is carried out in a sustainable way and to ensure that mining activities are managed in a way that minimises any detrimental effects on the riverine environment.
The scope of activity for the inter-agency working group includes:
For further information please contact Mariana de Moraes on firstname.lastname@example.org or (08) 9222 3068.
Industry Briefing Session
Reform of Western Australia’s mining and environmental regulation was discussed at a Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) industry briefing session on Tuesday 7 October. More than 150 people attended the event where they received updates and had the opportunity to provide feedback on DMP’s Reforming Environmental Regulation (RER) projects.
The briefing session coincided with the release of a discussion paper on Mining Proposal reform, one of the key priorities of RER.
Opening the event, DMP Director General Richard Sellers said the department was working hard to involve industry and community in the reform process.
“We have the RER Advisory Panel and a number of working and reference groups to advise on these proposed changes and make sure that what is put in place is practical and works for industry, while ensuring high level environmental protection,” Mr Sellers said.
“In addition to industry members, these advisory panels include representatives from conservation groups, other government departments, local government, and members of the broader community.”
The session ended with a panel discussion that included presenters and other DMP environment staff who fielded questions from the audience on legislative changes, mining proposal reform, and the review of the mine closure plan guidelines.
The presentation slides from the industry briefing session are now available on the DMP website along with the Mining Proposal reform discussion paper.
Presentations - Industry Briefing Session
Mining Proposal Reform Discussion Paper
Mining Proposal Reform Discussion Paper feedback
In conjunction with the briefing session, a Mining Proposal reform discussion paper was made available for comment for a four week period ending on 31 October 2014. The briefing session and discussion paper gave stakeholders an early opportunity to provide input into the future structure of risk and outcome-based Mining Proposals, as well as an opportunity to provide feedback or comment.
A total of 12 submissions were received during the period from a range of stakeholders. All submissions have assisted in the development of this reform and DMP sincerely appreciates the time and effort taken by stakeholders in preparing responses.
DMP is currently collating and reviewing responses received through this consultation process. The received submissions are publicly available on our website.
Industry Reference Group
Membership of the Mining Proposal Reform Industry Reference Group was finalised in November. The role of this group is to work closely with DMP to develop the shape and content of the new Mining Proposal Guidelines. The first meeting of this group was held on 25 November 2014.
DMP is appreciative of the on ground knowledge and experience that this group brings to the Mining Proposal reform process. Through the early involvement of these industry members, and the targeted feedback they can provide, DMP is confident that this reform will successfully develop a risk and outcomes Mining Proposal system that is practical, easy for industry to use and sets clear benchmarks for the environmental outcomes that DMP expects from mining in WA.
The group is made up of the following members:
Dr Phil Gorey
DMP Executive Officer
Association of Mining and Exploration Companies
Cement, Concrete & Aggregates Australia (CCAA)
The Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia
Environmental Consultants Association
As part of a coordinated application assessment process of government, all Programmes of Work or Mining Proposal applications are specifically checked to determine whether they need to be referred to another agency; such as the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), the Department of Water or the Department of Environmental Regulation. Our aim is for these referrals to be done as soon as possible following the lodgement of the application to avoid any delays in assessment.
DMP’s internal auditing processes have recently identified two instances where mineral proposals were not referred to another agency until more than 20 business days after they had been received by DMP. This is not acceptable, and DMP’s Environment Division has reviewed its referral practices and has implemented a new screening process for applications so that referrals can be made promptly after applications are received.
DMP will also, in the future, advise proponents when their application is being referred to the EPA. It is current standard practice for DMP to liaise with other agencies prior to referring applications, to avoid unnecessary referrals and provide prior warning so that the application can be dealt with in a timely way. This practice will continue.
If proponents experience any concerns with DMP’s referral of applications to other agencies, please provide this information through to Phil Gorey, Executive Director Environment at email@example.com.
A substantial component of the Reforming Environmental Regulation (RER) program will soon be accomplished, with important changes to the Mining Act 1978 set to be introduced into Parliament early next year. These legislative reforms will assist DMP to implement an objective-focused and risk-based regulatory framework, improve regulatory effectiveness and remove unnecessary duplication from the approval processes.
To reach this point, DMP has undertaken extensive consultation to refine these changes as well as to identify procedures and systems for delivering on a targeted strategy to implement best practice regulation.
This has generated a lot of consultation activity, however there have also been many reforms either delivered or substantially progressed which are already delivering direct benefits to both the industry and the community. Below is a summary of those reforms which are of particular interest. The support of all stakeholders in the development and delivery of these reforms is greatly appreciated.
BELOW IS A SUMMARY OF VARIOUS RER REFORMS WHICH ARE ALREADY DELIVERED
Changes to Programmes of Work
Removing redundant tenement conditions
Reducing unnecessary annual environmental reporting
Integrating annual environment reporting with other reporting
Reducing duplication for approval of Tailings Storage Facilities
Reducing unnecessary inspections and targeting compliance efforts
Reducing the need for multiple notifications for MRF
Addressing the outstanding issue of bonds on dead tenements
Retirement of unconditional performance MRF implementation
Full end to end electronic processing
OTHER RER REFORMS ALREADY WELL ADVANCED
Removal of the need for both native vegetation clearing permits and Mining Proposal approvals
Removing the need for approval of low impact activities under the Mining Act
Allowing the consolidation of multiple approvals on one site
Removing prescriptive approval processes
Streamlining of mineral and exploration reporting
Further phases of streamlining the setting of tenement conditions
Responding to industry on user-friendly guidelines
To date, $32.7 million has been paid into the MRF with a total of $925M retired in Unconditional Performance Bonds (UPB’s).
This will be a very brief update this quarter due to the release of the special edition of the Environment eNewsletter last month which was dedicated to the MRF.
MRF Special Edition Newsletter – Edition 11
You can check out all the stories here by following this link.
The stories were;
MRF was finalist for the Premiers Award
As some of you will be aware, the MRF was a finalist for the Premier’s Award in the “Developing the Economy” category for 2014.
The competition was incredibly tough this year with 50 entrants. The Department of Housing took the award for their Shared Equity EOI program – and was a worthy winner. This program has helped hundreds of West Australians buy their own home and was awarded for its positive impact on both the housing industry and employment.
As a consolation the MRF team did earn the badge which is now displayed at the top of the page. We have the privilege of flashing this for the next 12 months and will also display it on the MRF website. We still recognise this as a wonderful achievement which would not have been possible without a great team of dedicated staff and wonderful support from industry.
July – September 2014
The approval performance target for the department is to achieve greater than 80 per cent of applications finalised within the target timeline.
During the September quarter 2014, DMP finalised the majority of key approval processes within the target timelines.
The department received a total of 1009 mineral tenure applications comprising 580 Exploration Licences, 329 Prospecting Licences, 67 Miscellaneous Licences, 22 Mining Leases, two Retention Licences and nine General Purpose Leases. The department finalised 97 per cent of mineral exploration licence applications and 98 per cent of prospecting licences within the timeline target of 65 business days.
DMP received 577 Programme of Work exploration applications and 60 Mining Proposals. Ninety-six per cent of Programme of Work applications and 90 per cent of Mining Proposals were finalised within the timeline target of 30 business days. Sixty-two native vegetation clearing permit applications were received by the department during this quarter. Eighty-six per cent of clearing permit applications were finalised within the target timeline of 60 calendar days.
The department received 14 mine safety Project Management Plans (PMPs) and six Radiation Management Plans (RMPs) during the September quarter. One hundred per cent of PMPs and 83 per cent of RMPs were finalised within the target timeline of 30 business days.
During the September quarter, six new and revised safety case, safety management system, diving safety and pipeline management plans were accepted by the department. One hundred per cent were accepted within the statutory timelines.
The department, as part of a review of petroleum approval processes, has assessed and decided to report on a number of application types not previously reported on.
Three new application categories have been added. They are Joint Authority Assessments, Other Approvals and Other Titles. Other Approvals include application types such as Declaration/Revocation of Location, Extension of Title Term and Suspension of Permit Rights. Other Titles include Access Authority Applications, Drilling Reservation Applications and Special Prospecting Authority Applications. A detailed list of application types can be found on the DMP website located under Approvals/Approvals Reporting. These changes to reporting are effective 1 July 2014.
The department received 35 Joint Authority Assessments, 12 Other Approvals, five Exploration Permit applications and renewals, two Pipeline Licence applications and variations, five Survey and 37 Well applications. Seventy-nine per cent of Joint Authority Assessments were finalised within 20 business days. Eighty per cent of survey applications and 100 per cent of well applications were finalised within 40 business days. Only 11% of Petroleum Permit applications were finalised within the target timeframe. The department is working to improve Exploration Permit approval performance.
A total of 97 Petroleum Environment applications were received for planned petroleum activities in the State. Ninety-six per cent of Petroleum Environment applications were finalised within the target timeline.
DMP APPROVALS PERFORMANCE – THIRD QUARTER 2014
(July – September 2014)
The table below provides information regarding the number of mining and petroleum applications received by the Department during the specified period. DMP timeline target, approval performance measures and number of applications carried over to the next quarter are provided for key approval processes. The timeline target applies to processes completed by DMP and does not include, for example, the time taken for assessment by other government agencies or where the assessment process is put on hold while additional information is being sought from applicants.
Please keep these contact details handy for DMP’s Environment Division.
Minerals Assessment or Compliance Enquiries
The map linked here provides you with the contact details of the DMP Environmental Officers responsible for your inspectorate/mineral field area.
EARS / EARS 2 Online System Enquiries
General application and compliance reporting enquiries
Email : EARSManager@dmp.wa.gov.au
Phone : (08) 9222 3535
Mining Rehabilitation Fund enquiries
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone : (08) 9222 3162