The Mining Act 1978 (WA) (Mining Act) is enjoying a recent spate of publicity thanks to the passage of two amendment Bills. Whilst both Bills seek to amend the Mining Act, their reception by various stakeholders in the mining industry has been vastly different.
The Mining Legislation Amendment Bill 2015, which proposes to amend to the Mining Act, Mining Legislation Amendment Act 2014(WA), Environmental Protection Act 1986 (WA) and the Mining Rehabilitation Fund Act 2012 (WA) has been commented on extensively and has fallen foul of further red tape with its referral to the Standing Committee on Legislation in late February 2016. Whilst the Bill, the product of four years of consultation with various stakeholders, has received widespread support from various industry groups including the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies, it has failed to win over small prospectors and leaseholders. The findings of the Standing Committee on Legislation are due to be reported to Parliament by 10 May 2016.
Somewhat less controversially, the Licensing Provisions Amendment Bill 2015 is currently navigating its way through the Legislative Assembly. This Bill contains various amendments which seek to remove out-dated and obsolete requirements in various Acts, including the Mining Act, in order to ease regulatory burden for business. Amongst the proposed amendments to the Mining Act are the creation of a single point of contact for mining tenements as well as removal of the burdensome requirement to seek authorisation for the mining of iron ore.
The amendment to section 111 of the Mining Act provides that any prospecting licence, exploration licence, retention licence or mining lease granted on and after the commencement of the Licensing Provisions Amendment Act 2015 (WA) will not require the endorsement of the Minister prior to being permitted to prospect, explore or mine (as applicable) for iron ore. This is a welcome removal of unnecessary regulatory red tape and, when viewed in parallel with the Mining Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 (WA), indicates a welcome intention on the part of the legislature to simplify and modernise the Mining Act.