Amended administrative procedures to support the mining sector during COVID-19 pandemic
Acting on input from industry, the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) is changing some administrative procedures to support the mining sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.
DMIRS is continuing to hold regular meetings with industry bodies including the Chamber of Minerals and Energy Western Australia, the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies, the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, Cement Concrete & Aggregates Australia, and the Amalgamated Prospectors and Leaseholders Association to identify and discuss key priorities and emerging issues.
DMIRS is strongly encouraging individuals and businesses to use the department’s online services wherever possible rather than lodging physical documents.
This is a summary of administrative changes and new or revised guidance for the mining industry.
The Resource and Environmental Regulation Group will accept electronic signatures on documents which are not required to be witnessed or sworn. A reliable method must be used to identify the person sending the signature and the person’s approval must be indicated.
However, electronic signatures are not acceptable for documents which need to be witnessed or sworn. For example, Surrenders, Statutory Declarations and Affidavits must have “wet” signatures.
DMIRS has established that an Affidavit of Compliance in which the applicant/agent swears that certain requirements of the Mining Act and Regulations have been complied with is not a statutory requirement. This means that a Statement of Compliance is sufficient unless there is an objection. A Statement of Compliance template will be made available and it will include a statement requiring confirmation that the person making the statement is authorised to do so, and acknowledging that it is an offence to make false statements. An Affidavit of Compliance may be required at a later stage if the application is objected to.
If the Mining Act and Regulations prescribe a particular form of giving or service of documents, it must be done that way by both DMIRS and industry.
If no specific form of giving or service is prescribed, it must be done in accordance with regulation 111 of the Mining Regulations. In addition, the Electronic Transactions Act may permit the giving or service of these types of documents/notices via electronic means, but only if the receiving party consents.
Where the giving or service of a document/notice is prescribed by statute (e.g. notice of caveat), DMIRS will continue to give/serve as prescribed (e.g. by certified mail), but will also send a copy of the document to the Designated Tenement Contact (DTC), if provided, by electronic communication.
Where the giving of a document/notice is required by administrative law to ensure procedural fairness (e.g. notice of intention to refuse), DMIRS will continue to use regular methods of communication and will also send the document/notice to your DTC email address (if provided).
DMIRS also sends documents or notices to tenement holders, including – as an extra service – some documents or notices not officially required to be sent by law (e.g. rent notices). In circumstances such as this, we will send them via electronic communication. If no email address is provided, they will be sent by regular communication practices.
Industry is encouraged to ensure that both their physical address details and DTC details are current and that both physical and electronic mail accounts are checked regularly.
Amendments to the Mining Regulations to allow for greater use of DTCs are a priority for DMIRS and are expected to start in the second half of this year.
DTC regulations are required before the DTC details can be used in lieu of postal service, therefore use of the DTC by DMIRS must be in addition to existing postal notification requirements.
DMIRS will correspond by email in relation to Ballot letters and Warden’s Court matters if an email address has been provided. Parties are encouraged to supply an email address if they wish correspondence to occur electronically.
Similarly, a rent receipt for a cheque payment will be emailed if an email address is provided at time of payment.
The “other document” functionality is now available on Mineral Titles Online. This allows various documents to be lodged, including applications to vary conditions, amalgamations, etc.
The Mining Regulations provide for a Power of Attorney (Form 31) which may provide greater flexibility in managing tenements/applications.
It is not possible to issue refunds by EFT. The only method at the moment is by cheque. However, this issue is being reviewed by DMIRS.
The service requirements for the Federal Native Title Act 1993 are set by the Commonwealth and must be complied with. DMIRS will be emailing notification advice to DTCs and native title representatives, in addition to complying with the service requirements set by the Commonwealth.