WA explorers get expenditure holiday

MINERALS explorers in Western Australia are to get relief consideration from the WA government if they cannot meet their tenements’ expenditure requirements as a direct result of COVID-19 or because of state and federal government restrictions.
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Explorers are to receive exploration expenditure relief consideration.

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The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies called on the government to grant tenement expenditure relief earlier in March.

It has welcomed the government's decision to consider expenditure relief.

Many exploration companies are struggling to raise the funds they need given the financial uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 crisis. The WA and federal governments have also restricted access to large parts of the state to explorers to help protect remote Aboriginal communities from COVID-19.  There are suggestions other parts of the state may be closed off too.

WA mines minister Bill Johnston has enabled the exploration expenditure exemption and the decision will be valid until March 31 2021, unless rescinded earlier.

Johnston's statement of opinion will be published in the Government Gazette in coming days.

Applications can be made to the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety detailing the reasons an extension of time is required through the existing Form 5 process.

In terms of tenement rents there is an existing mechanism that allows tenement holders to apply for an extension of time to pay.

Applications can be made to DMIRS detailing the reasons an extension of time is required.

DMIRS is investigating a range of other initiatives that may help the industry without compromising the integrity of the state's legislative framework.

Johnston said these were uncertain and challenging times, he wanted to thank those in the mining industry for sharing their views on how the state government could help.

"Our mining industry has played a huge part in the growth and development of this state, and it will continue to play an important role for years to come," he said.

AMEC chief executive Warren Pearce said the relief was crucial but more needed to be done.

"The reality for mineral exploration is that without significant cost relief from government, many small exploration companies will not survive COVID-19," he said.

"AMEC has been calling for cost relief from all Australian governments in three key areas, exemptions from minimum expenditure requirements, mining tenement rental fees and local government rating on tenements. 

"All three are large fixed costs that many in our industry can no longer afford to bear.

"We are extremely pleased that the WA government is implementing the first of these calls which will remove some immediate financial pressures for these companies.

"The WA government has been the first to introduce such measures and recognises the significant challenges facing our industry.

"With recent announcements restricting access to large parts of the state for exploration, and further restrictions anticipated, such cost relief measures are both fair and reasonable.

"Mineral exploration companies face a tough finance and investment market where raising capital is incredibly difficult.  

"The WA government's willingness to provide relief now will assist these companies to survive this period and to allow our industry to bounce back quicker post-COVID-19, supporting the economic recovery of the state."

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