WA aims for low-impact criteria expansion

PUBLIC consultation is now open on proposed changes to Western Australia’s exploration framework which would expand the definition of low impact exploration, entitling more projects to application fee exemptions.

Jack McGinn

A consultation paper proposing changes to the exploration framework would see the definition of low-impact exploration works expanded to cover projects up to 2ha in certain areas.

Under previous reforms to the exploration application process to be implemented on July 1, works classified as low-impact are exempt from new program of work assessment fees, with the interim size cut-off for a low-impact activity set at 0.25ha.

Changes which expand the definition of low-impact activities would mean more projects would be eligible to have their fees waived, instead being subject to prescribed environmental standards and administered under a notification system.

The assessment fee system will also be introduced on July 1, and will see charges of $A590 for program of work applications.

Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Marmion said the proposal would be a win for the state’s explorers.

“This reform will not only save prospectors money, it will also result in time savings,” he said.

“Operations defined as low-impact will be exempt from requiring approvals and will therefore not be subject to assessment fees once new legislation being introduced in state parliament comes into force in early 2016.

“As there will be no need for assessment, the tenement holder can start the low-impact activity as soon as the department has been notified.”

Marmion said the interim cut-off would exempt about a quarter of program of work applications and will be used until the proposed new definition in the amended legislation takes effect next year.

A mining proposal application fee of $6950 will be introduced at the same time as the program of work application fee on July 1.

The consultation paper is open for public comment until May 28.