The announcement flags progress in a $A5.5 million plan that has helped the state’s Department of Mines and Petroleum cut mining and exploration applications awaiting approval to about 5000.
This represents an almost 75% drop on February 2007, when the application backlog stood at 19,000.
“We’ve granted applications over nearly 17,000sq.km of land in previously stalled mining and exploration applications during the past year – that’s just over half the size of Belgium,” Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Marmion said.
“This includes some significant and highly prospective areas across the state.”
The Mines Department said that the decrease was partially due to a specialist taskforce that cut outstanding applications from 6400 to 5050 in the past year.
“Through the taskforce’s proactive engagement in the native title negotiations, my department was able to help reduce the backlog of applications and aims to reduce WA’s stalled applications to 4000 by June 2014,” Marmion said.
“We want to prevent mining companies from so-called application parking or land banking – where access to land for mineral exploration is purposely stalled in the Native Title Act proceedings to maintain priority over areas and prevent other companies from developing it.
“This is part of a bigger picture of streamlining government operations and improving approvals processes.”
Last month, the WA government kicked off its rehabilitation fund intended to replace the state’s environmental bonds system. It launched an online royalty system to provide greater reliability of royalty data, improve payment processes and automate accounting systems.
The WA Chamber of Minerals and Energy announced a new set of protocols recently regarding Aboriginal heritage policy, intended to enhance the industry’s “social licence to operate”
Key areas of consideration were heritage survey procedures, the Register of Aboriginal Sites and site disturbance processes.