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Exploration permit backlog finally eliminated

THE backlog of mining exploration permit applications dating back to as early as 1996 has been eliminated, according to a statement issued yesterday by the Queensland government.

Angie Tomlinson
Exploration permit backlog finally eliminated

Mines Minister Stephen Robertson said the permit backlog occurred when the Borbidge government froze all mining exploration permit applications following the High Court's Wik native title decision in December 1996.

"The Coalition backlog reached 1,200 permit applications at its height, it seriously eroded confidence in the mining industry, and contributed to the significant fall in exploration investment in Queensland," said Robertson.

"On my appointment as Mines Minister in 2001, I gave the Queensland Mining Industry an assurance that eliminating the backlog of mining exploration permit applications would be my top priority."

"I am delighted to inform the Parliament and the mining industry today...mission accomplished!"

Mr Robertson said the backlog of permits lodged prior to 18 September 2000 had been reduced from the original 1,200 frozen permits to zero.

"The last 344 permit applications from the backlog are now being processed normally under a variety of native title arrangements put in place by the Beattie Government."

"In November 2002, we reverted to the Commonwealth "right to negotiate" process for mining and exploration, and this has since been formalised by Queensland's Natural Resources and other Legislation Amendment Act 2003."

"We also developed a state model Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) for native title parties to negotiate mining tenure and exploration agreements.

"These new streamlined native title processes are helping to expedite mining exploration tenure applications towards grant," he said.

"The exploration industry will be heartened to learn that 202 exploration applications have been granted in the past six months, compared with 106 in the half year before that," he said.

Mr Robertson said that some of the remaining backlogged permit applications were being processed under the provisions of Queensland's "alternative state procedures" (which have since been replaced by the Commonwealth processing regime.)

"A further 230 applications are within areas where Queensland's Statewide model ILUAs and small scale mining ILUAs have been authorised and are awaiting registration."

Five more ILUAs covering mineralised areas of Queensland have been registered in the National Native Title Tribunal over the past month.

"These registrations will further reduce the current uncompleted applications by at least another 32 applications," he said.

Mr Robertson said a further 71 applications are being processed under the expedited procedures using the Commonwealth regime.

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