In this Alert, Partner Simon Panegyres and Associate Kylie Panckhurst discuss two new initiatives by the Western Australian Department of Mines and Petroleum (Department) which are intended to enhance access to mining information in Western Australia.

New online tenement information system to counter “data mining”

The Department has announced that it will establish an online system where information relating to the availability of tenements will be provided, free of charge, following the registration of the surrender of a tenement.

The information will be visible to all users at the same time from the Department’s website and distributed via an RSS feed (enabling access to the latest items without having to check the Department’s website).

In addition, detailed tenement information will be available for download for free on a next day basis, which should assist with compliance / tenement management by tenement holders.

The Department’s move is in response to concerns of “data mining” by a number of companies and tenement service providers who have been seeking to gain an advantage over competitors in relation to the surrender of mining tenements.

The Department lodges details of surrendered mining tenements in an electronic system before the information is made public. Media reports have suggested that companies had been connecting software to the Department’s online tenement system through their privileges as authorised users, thereby enabling them to gain an advantage over their competitors in identifying and securing surrendered tenements before the information is made public. 

The new system is intended to level the playing field by making information relating to tenement availability generally accessible and to remove the advantage gained from data mining.  The data provided will not include any pre-registration information that may indicate the surrender of a tenement.

Access to mapping and geological data in the field

In another development highlighting the significance of the use of technology in the search for minerals, the Western Australian State Government has launched a new “WAGeology” app. 

This free app is intended to enable prospectors and explorers in the field to access detailed digital geological maps and multiple layers of information such as land use, native title and biodiversity information via mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. 

The WAGeology app was developed from the Department’s extensive digital database and includes measuring and mapping tools which use GPS co-ordinates for accuracy.

The application is available by cutting and pasting into the web browser of your mobile device.