Deputy Director General’s foreword
Welcome to the first edition of the Resource and Environmental Regulation Group eNewsletter.
The Resource and Environmental Regulation Group (RER Group) was formed in January 2018 following the formation of the new Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) in 2017 when machinery of government changes amalgamated the former Department of Mines and Petroleum with parts of the Department of Commerce. The RER Group encompasses the Resource and Environmental Compliance Division, the Resource Tenure Division and the Geological Survey and Resource Strategy Division.
In this inaugural edition, we provide a number of updates relating to Western Australia’s resources sector. These updates include notification of upcoming changes to exploration applications as well as an overview of the recently celebrated Resource Sector Awards for Excellence, which includes the prestigious Golden Gecko environmental awards and Community Partnership Resources Sector Award. You can find out more about the winners, with link to pages dedicated to the awards. I would like to encourage all individuals and companies to nominate projects that may be eligible for the annual awards, which open again in February and close in April 2019.
Also in this first edition we discuss the Validation Bill, and will be seeking support from stakeholders in 2019 when a draft of this Bill is made available for public consultation.
The RER Group eNewsletter will be distributed quarterly. Please add this email to your safe senders list to ensure you receive your copy.
I would like to wish you, your family and friends a very happy and safe holiday season.
Dr Phil Gorey
Deputy Director General
Resource & Environmental Regulation Group
Validation Bill - addressing security of tenure
The State Government is progressing validation legislation to address security of tenure implications for Western Australia’s mining industry following last year’s High Court decision in the case of Forrest & Forrest Pty Ltd v Wilson & Ors  HCA 30.
The High Court ruled that two mining lease applications were invalid because the applicant did not strictly adhere to the requirements of the Mining Act 1978 (WA) (Mining Act) by ensuring supporting details contemporaneously accompanied the application. In doing so, the High Court overturned earlier decisions made by Western Australia’s Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal regarding interpretation of the Mining Act when dealing with mining tenements.
This case has generated uncertainty about the validity of mining tenements, which were processed in good faith and in accordance with the previous practices and understanding of the law at the time. New legislation aims to strengthen the Mining Act for both industry and stakeholders, including native title holders, by validating existing mining tenements and making procedural amendments to ensure security of mining tenure in the future.
Even though native title rights are addressed before the grant of a tenement, there is a risk that the validating legislation itself could trigger the ‘future act’ provisions of the Commonwealth’s Native Title Act 1993. The State Government is working collaboratively with the Commonwealth to ensure the State’s validation legislation addresses any impacts under the Native Title Act and will ensure that existing Native Title agreements will not be affected.
The procedural amendments to the Mining Act will make some changes to the way tenement applications are made. The Bill will lessen the administrative burden, making it easier for industry to adhere to the statutory lodgement requirements and reduce the potential for an application to be invalid.
The department will provide further information on the procedural changes in the Bill to interested stakeholders within the next few months.
PoW Spatial in 2019
From early 2019, all exploration proponents will use PoW Spatial to submit their proposed activities for approval.
The overwhelming success of the Programme of Work (PoW) Spatial system since its launch in March 2017 means the old PoW Exploration online application form can now be decommissioned. Prospectors wishing to take advantage of the fast decision timeframes on offer can also submit their applications via PoW Spatial. Alternatively, the original paper based PoW Prospecting form will continue to be available for download from the department’s website.
Over 80 per cent of all Programme of Work applications are already submitted via PoW Spatial. Proponents can either upload existing shape files or draw and describe their proposed activities directly on screen. The system intersects these activities with environmental and culturally significant data layers and highlights all potential impacts. Proponents can then make adjustments to their proposed activities to avoid impacting sensitive areas.
By providing proponents with the ability to optimise their application prior to submission, average decision timeframes have reduced by five days in comparison to the old PoW Exploration form and 15 days compared to the PoW Prospecting form.
The system offers a win-win for all interested parties, not only are proponents able to get out into the field sooner, the high quality of application content means Environmental Officers have an increased level of confidence in their decision making. They can also add further value through the provision of tailored advice on rehabilitation best practices.
PoW Spatial is available through EARSOnline.For more information, please email POWSpatial@dmirs.wa.gov.au
Resource Sector Awards for Excellence
This year, five projects from across Western Australia were recognised for their commitment to continuous innovation and excellence in the State’s resources sector.
A full list of winners and further information about the entrants and finalists can be found at www.dmirs.wa.gov.au/excellenceawards.
Golden Gecko Award
Two projects demonstrated such high standards of environmental excellence that they were both awarded the prestigious Golden Gecko award, now in its 27th year.
BHP Iron Ore was recognised for its formative research project, Chasing Ghosts: Understanding Ghost Bat ecology in the Pilbara. Evidence of the presence of the ghost bat in BHP's Mining Area C commenced a significant collaborative project across industry, government and academia, which resulted in a regionally relevant understanding of the ecology and management of the ghost bat population in the Pilbara.
WA Port Authorities and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development were also awarded for their world-first State Wide Array Surveillance Program (SWASP). The program uses molecular techniques with a collaborative marine biosecurity surveillance network to more rapidly respond to a potential incursion of an introduced marine pest.
Alcoa Australia received a Golden Gecko certificate of merit for its project that has delivered a technique to eradicate the Phytophthora dieback pathogen without chemicals and on a large scale.
Roy Hill Holdings was awarded in the Safety and Health Engineering category for its unique lightning protection system, which protects staff who are moving around facilities during lightning red alerts.
The Systems and People award was presented to Rio Tinto Iron Ore for its effective and practical solution to emergency response exposure reduction initiative, BARRIO.
Community Partnership Award
BHP continued its success taking out the Community Partnership Resources Sector Award for its partnership with Foodbank WA, Healthy Food for All – Pilbara Regional Strategy. The Food Sensations suite of programs and School Breakfast program have evolved from a long-term partnership, which fosters a cohesive relationship between students, parents and educators in a social setting to meet children’s nutritional needs, and general physical and mental health.
Integrated compliance regime and customer mapping
The Resource and Environmental Compliance (REC) Division has completed a review into the level of integration that exists within its services. The REC Division is responsible for regulating and ensuring title holders’ compliance within the RER Group.
Following the Machinery of Government changes in 2017, the department’s new divisional structure provided the opportunity to develop an Integrated Compliance Regime within the REC Division to integrate the variety of the branches to identify:
The integrated compliance regime is linked to the department’s ‘Outcome Based Management’ structure –‘supporting a safe, fair and responsible future for the Western Australian community, industry and resources sector’.
The regime is founded on a risk-based approach, whereby compliance activities are reviewed and targeted to ensure the Division is utilising its resources in the most effective and efficient manner. In addition, the REC Division also employs a random sampling methodology for a portion of its annual planning. This random sampling takes the form of general audit principles applicable to each Branch and ensures a minimum standard is maintained over time. The inclusion of random sampling greatly assists the Division in ensuring compliance at all levels of the resource industry, as well as helping to identify emerging trends or issues that may require closer attention.
In developing the Integrated Compliance Regime, the REC Division reviewed all interactions with customers across its regulatory areas to better understand how the Division interacts with its customers and where customers are regulated by more than one branch. This supports the need for consistency in approach, sharing compliance knowledge across branches and being more strategic in our audits and inspections. As a starting point, the REC Division mapped out a calendar of its annual audit program to identify areas where it can be more strategic and better informed in its inspection activities. This review will be used to inform future compliance planning providing a better understanding of our customers and delivering a consistent approach to customer engagement on compliance matters.
eMits improvements increases debt collection efficiencies
DMIRS is responsible under the Financial Management Act 2006 for the recovery of outstanding fees, penalties and rents where the mining tenement has been relinquished after the anniversary date, but the debt remains outstanding.
Acting Executive Director, Resource and Environmental Compliance Division, Karen Caple, said recent enhancements to the department’s electronic Mineral Titles (eMiTs) data base, currently in testing, will allow automated printing of rent reminder notices, overdue notices and final rent notices.
“The changes will enable DMIRS to issue notices more efficiently and it is expected that automated notices will be printed and issued from the first quarter of 2019,” Ms Caple said.
“Furthermore, additional eMits enhancements in 2019 will enable these notices to be automatically emailed directly to the title holders’ Designated Tenement Contact, rather than printed and posted, which will save the Western Australian tax payer thousands of dollars.”
DMIRS is encouraging all mining tenement holders to evaluate the ongoing interest in a mining tenement prior to its anniversary date. Debt recovery action will follow if relinquished after the anniversary date.
In accordance with the provisions of section 114B of the Mining Act 1978 (WA):
The expiry, surrender or forfeiture of a mining tenement does not affect the liability of the person who was the holder of the mining tenement immediately before its expiry, surrender or forfeiture —
40E permit cancellation
On 30 July 2018, three individuals (permit holders) lodged an application for a permit under section 40E of the Mining Act 1978 (WA) (Mining Act) for an area of seven graticular blocks the subject of an Exploration Licence in the Pilbara. On the same day the Regional Mining Registrar Karratha, issued the permit for a period of three months subject to conditions in accordance with the Mining Regulations 1981 (WA) as allowed for under section 40E(5) of the Mining Act.
Condition number two of the permit states:
“No prospecting activities are to commence within the first 21 days of the term of the permit unless a licensee statement under Regulation 4H of the Mining Regulations 1981 has been received”.
On 15 August 2018 while on a field trip to local prospecting areas, Pilbara Liaison Officer Anthony Anderson, spoke with one of the permit holders at a campsite situated within the permit boundary. Enquiries made by Anthony identified that the holders had not received a licensee statement and two of the holders were conducting prospecting activities on the land prior to 20 August 2018, being the expiry of the first 21 days from the issue of the permit.
The Pilbara Liaison Officer referred the matter to the Executive Director, Resource Tenure Division as the Minister’s delegate for his consideration. Having reviewed the evidence, the Executive Director requested the Regional Mining Registrar Karratha notify the permit holders of his intention to cancel the permit, and in accordance with the Mining Regulations 1981, afforded the permit holders an opportunity to make written submissions on this matter.
One of the permit holders lodged a submission stating he was unaware of the activities of the other two and that he had not been on the land, the subject of the permit. He acknowledged he was aware no prospecting activities were to commence within the first 21 days of the term of the permit and he did not contravene the conditions of the permit. No submissions were received from the other two permit holders.
On 9 October 2018, the Executive Director, Resource Tenure Division, as the Minister’s delegate, cancelled the section 40E permit.
Lessons emerging from this incident include the need to comply strictly with the Mining Act, Regulations and conditions relating to Section 40E permits, and particularly the embargo on beginning prospecting activities within 21 days unless the holders have received a statement from the exploration licence holder. The other lesson is that joint holders are each and severally responsible for compliance.
Everything you need to know about Section 40E permits can be found on our website.
Progress towards transparency in offshore petroleum
DMIRS has been working with government and petroleum industry stakeholders on ways to improve consultation and transparency in offshore petroleum environmental management, through the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) Transparency Taskforce Steering Committee.
The Steering Committee’s Meeting records and status updates are available for viewing on NOPSEMA's website.
Transparency Taskforce Steering Committee Members
Mining Rehabilitation Fund update
MRF Yearly Report
The latest Mining Rehabilitation Fund (MRF) Yearly report is now available, which highlights the activities and achievements of the MRF in the 2017/2018 financial year.
Also released is the assessment information from the state’s approximately 19,000 tenements. This information is provided by tenement holders and is used to calculate the MRF levy payments.
Compliance with reporting requirements continues to be nearly universal - contributions received over the 2017/2018 financial year brought the balance of the fund to $122.6 million, this amount includes $6.3 million earned since 1 July 2014.
The report also highlights the work carried out by the Abandoned Mines Program over the past year. This included the continuing work on the program’s four pilot sites at Black Diamond Pit Lake, Pro-Force Plant Site, Bulong Nickel Tailing Storage Facitlity and Elverdton Dump, as well as the work at the Ellendale Diamond Mine.
The Yearly Report also contains information on the following topics:
Post Implementation Review of the Mining Rehabilitation Fund Regulations 2013
The Post-Implementation Review (PIR) of the Mining Rehabilitation Fund Regulations 2013 (MRF Regulations) has now been completed by Marsden Jacob Associates on behalf of DMIRS. The PIR was required to comply with an exemption granted from Regulatory Impact Assessment at the time the MRF Regulations were drafted. In accordance with the requirements of the Department of Treasury’s Better Regulation Unit (BRU), the PIR was submitted in late September 2018 and BRU has since issued DMIRS with its Letter of Compliance.
The PIR focused on whether the objectives of the Mining Rehabilitation Fund Act 2012 (WA) (MRF Act), by way of the Regulations, were being achieved. The scope of the PIR aimed to explore whether the Mining Rehabilitation Fund (MRF) provides appropriate, effective and efficient method of ensuring that funds are available for mine rehabilitation, even if the responsible tenement holder cannot be identified or pursued.
Marsden Jacob Associates consulted with a wide range of stakeholders including; tenement holders, tenement service agencies, industry peak bodies, legal advisers, environmental consultants, non-government agencies and the Mining Rehabilitation Advisory Panel. Consultation with these stakeholders has found that the fund is performing well overall against its stated objectives. However, almost all stakeholders felt that the fund was only in its initial stages and would need to continue for several more years to reach a sustainable level.
The report concluded that there is strong stakeholder support for the MRF collecting funds that will be able to be directed to abandoned mines.
The PIR makes four key recommendations for further consideration. The recommendations represent opportunities for improvement that will enhance the effectiveness of the fund’s administration. The recommendations are summarised below:
DMIRS is committed to working with stakeholders to address several misconceptions held about the fund (detailed throughout the PIR Report), in preparation for a more comprehensive statutory review of the legislation. The statutory review is provided for under section 38 of the MRF Act and is due to be undertaken in November 2022,10 years after the Act received Royal Assent. This broader review will evaluate the overarching operation and effectiveness of the Act and Regulations.
Call for Expressions of Interest - Mining Rehabilitation Fund Advisory Panel
The Mining Rehabilitation Fund Advisory Panel is established under the Mining Rehabilitation Fund Act 2012. The Mining Rehabilitation Fund Advisory Panel’s (the Panel) function is:
The Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety is seeking expressions of interest for the appointment of a new Panel, for a new three year term commencing March 2019. Members are to have skills, expertise or experience relating to at least one of the following -
Interested persons are encouraged to review the MRF Fact sheet, the Mining Rehabilitation Fund Regulations 2013 and the Mining Rehabilitation Fund Act 2012, which outline the roles and responsibilities of the MRF Advisory Panel. More information about the fund is available on our website. Please provide a resume and a response in no more than two pages on how you meet one or more of the above criteria.
Applications should be emailed to email@example.com with the subject line “Confidential MRF Panel Application” by no later than 1 February 2019.
DMIRS Resource and Environmental Compliance Division oversees the Resource and Environmental Compliance Enforcement Panel that considers cases of alleged breaches of tenement conditions under the Mining Act 1978 (WA) (Mining Act) and provides advice to the Minister for Mines and Petroleum on whether forfeiture, or a penalty in lieu of forfeiture, should be imposed.
DMIRS considers it important to raise industry’s awareness of common types of breaches that occur, with the aim of promoting the importance of compliance.
Penalties in lieu of forfeiture (PILF) imposed by the Minister for Mines and Petroleum
This is a consolidated list of confirmed Mining Act breach of tenement conditions for a 12 month period between 1 October 2017 and 30 September 2018 that have had a penalty imposed by the Minister for Mines and Petroleum.
Future issues of the RER Group eNewsletter will be released quarterly and will include a list of PILF’s for breaches if they have occurred. PILF’s were previously reported on a quarterly basis in the Environment eNewsletter which was discontinued in December 2017.
Nature of Breach
Learnings for Industry
Minister’s Decision Date
No. of Tenements
Individual or Company
Not managing dust.
Ensure operations are undertaken in accordance with approvals.
Alteration or expansion of operations without approval.
Ensure all approvals have been received before undertaking works and operations.
Approvals Performance Report
1 July to 30 September 2018
DMIRS has developed a new approach to resource sector approval performance reporting. In addition to reporting DMIRS performance, the department will also report the time taken by other agencies and the proponent. This “whole of approval” reporting will assist proponents with project approval planning and highlight opportunities for further efficiencies. The new approach commenced 1 January 2018. Feedback from stakeholders to date has been positive.
This quarter, the focus is on mine safety Project Management Plans applications. Project Management Plans are required to be approved before the commencement of mining operations under the Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994 and Regulations 1995 to ensure risks to employees are systematically identified and management plans are put in place to mitigate those risks.
One of the PMPs finalised in this period was with the proponent for an excessive period of time. Given the relatively small sample size, this has had a significant impact on the average. Typically the average number of days with the proponent is less than 20 days.
RER Group publications and subscriptions
The RER Group eNews now replaces the following eNewsletters. You can still access the previous editions of these eNewsletters on the DMIRS website.
If you are a subscriber and would like to unsubscribe, click on the link provided in the covering email that delivered your RER Group eNews, you will find this at the bottom of the email.
Minerals & Petroleum
Weekly Native Vegetation Clearing Permit advertisements
Every week DMIRS advertises native vegetation clearing permit applications received and the decisions made. Clearing Permit decisions made are available for public appeal and submissions and appeals are to be made within the time period specified in the advertisement. Subscribe if you would like to be notified of Notifications of Clearing Permit Applications and decisions.
Western Australia’s Petroleum and Geothermal Explorer’s Guide
Western Australia’s Petroleum and Geothermal Explorer’s Guide 2014 Edition is designed to provide general information and guidance on the legislative framework for companies considering exploring and investing in Western Australia’s (WA) upstream petroleum and geothermal energy industries, and for companies currently involved in those industries. It may also be a reference for the public and other government agencies.
Mineral and Petroleum Statistics Digest
The Western Australian Mineral and Petroleum Statistics Digest contains key statistical information and analysis on the WA resource sector. Data covers mineral and petroleum quantity and values, royalty receipts, employment, mineral titles as well as listing contact details for principal producers. The publication is available electronically and is published for each financial year and calendar year.
Petroleum in Western Australia (PWA)
Petroleum in Western Australia (PWA) magazine is a biannual publication highlighting petroleum exploration, development and production activities in State waters and onshore areas of WA. PWA includes informative articles on oil and gas companies, current development projects, petroleum trends, changes to legislation, new technology and equipment, and current exploration activities. Publication of PWA has been temporarily placed on hold however the next issue will be available in 2019. Please subscribe to be notified when it is released.
Geological Survey of Western Australia
The Geological Survey of Western Australia (GSWA) is part of the department’s Geological Survey and Resource Strategy (GSRS) Division. GSWA conducts field-based research which provides solid, unbiased geoscientific advice to government, industry and the public.
GSWA Commemorative Booklet
The publication “The Geological Survey of WA: 130 years of geological excellence through the lens of its directors” celebrates GSWA’s 130th anniversary. This commemorative booklet can be downloaded for free from the department’s eBookshop.
The GSWA eNewsletter is an online periodical newsletter that contains information on geophysical data releases, workshops, field trips, events, as well as latest releases of maps, books and digital data packages.
Fieldnotes is a quarterly publication released by GSWA that provides the State's exploration industry and other geoscientists with an update on our latest work and ongoing programs. The publication provides updates on other GSWA products and services and is available free from the Information Centre located on the first floor of Mineral House, 100 Plain Street, East Perth 6004.
Geotoursim & WA Unearthed
GSWA develops geotourism products to help tourists genuinely experience the magnificent geological heritage of Western Australia.
The WA Unearthed series presents an understanding of the geological evolution of the State that is the distillation of 30 years of geological mapping by GSWA and its collaborations with university and industry researchers. It emphasises the integration with precise geochronology and the contribution of high-quality isotopic, geophysical, and geochemistry datasets.
DMIRS online catalogue accesses geoscience information including:
Catalogue of geoscience products 1980–2009 lists all books, maps and digital packages published between 1980 and 2009.
Catalogue of pre-1980 geological publications lists all books published between 1898 and 1979.
eBookshop and other DMIRS publications and subscriptions
eBookshop - The Department of Mines, Industry Regualtion and Safety (DMIRS) has an eBookshop and many of the publications and PDF versions of books are free to download.
Prospect magazine - internationally circulated publication showcasing Western Australia’s dynamic resources sector.
Annual Reports - An archive of all Annual Reports providing an overview of DMIRS’ performance, budget papers, resource agreements and other strategic documents.
Latest News – DMIRS latest news articles, work in progress, upcoming events and stories relevant to industry.
DG News – DMIRS’ Director General (DG) distributes email updates on the department’s latest activities such as the department’s work in progress, upcoming events and staff movements relevant to industry.
Twitter (@dmirs_wa) - Be the first to hear stories and follow DMIRS on Twitter.
DMIRS News Alert - subscribe for updates on DMIRS latest news articles, work in progress, upcoming events and stories relevant to industry.
RER Group eNews
The Resource and Environmental Regulation (RER) Group eNewsletter is an online periodical newsletter that contains latest news, updates and events coming from the Resource and Environmental Compliance Division, Resource Tenure Division and the Geological Survey and Resource Strategy Division.
If you would like to stay informed about new products, services and other news from the RER Group, subscribe to our eNewsletter.
If you are a subscriber and would like to unsubscribe, click on the link provided in the covering email that delivered your RER Group eNews, you will find this at the bottom of the email.
RER Group Contacts
The Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety provides regulatory and policy oversight of the mineral and energy resources sector by overseeing the industry’s environmental standards, resource titles systems, worker health and safety, geoscience functions and dangerous goods legislation.
View contacts for the Resources Sector.