REMINDER: Western Australia tenement holders can voluntarily opt into the Mining Rehabilitation Fund (MRF) from Monday 1 July 2013.
The voluntary opt in period allows companies:
- to retire existing unconditional performance bonds (UPBs) early, which will result in cash payments where the existing bonds are cash backed and reduce the need for finance; and
- time to establish and test appropriate administrative systems and data inputs (particularly important if you have a large number of tenements or multiple registered tenement holders).
The MRF system is entirely online and it is free to opt into. The type and area of environmental disturbance on each tenement will need to be collated and submitted into the system. This may involve significant time and administration if you have a number of tenements.
If your data adds up to an environmental liability above $50,000.00 for the reporting year, you will be required to pay a levy to the fund. Some tenement holders may have to pay more under the MRF than under current UPB rates.
It is important to note that the MRF requires all registered tenement holders to consent to the opt in and submission of data. Where a tenement has multiple holders, parties will need to consider how MRF arrangements are best co-ordinated.
There will be no impact on the tenement title if you decide not to opt in straight away.
The voluntary period simply allows tenement holders the chance to access cash bond refunds early, to become familiar with the system and to identify/rectify any gaps in data before the MRF becomes compulsory.
From 1 July 2014, it will be compulsory for all tenement holders to register with the MRF and to complete environmental reporting requirements as well as any levy payment each reporting year.
Regardless of whether or not you opt into the MRF, tenement holders are obliged to rehabilitate their tenements in accordance with all currently applicable laws and tenement conditions.