Following a one-year voluntary opt-in period, Western Australia has implemented mandatory contributions to the Mining Rehabilitation Fund (MRF), effective July 1.
All Mining Act tenement holders are required to report disturbance data and contribute annually to the fund, which is administered by the Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP).
However tenements that are covered by state agreements not listed in the regulations are excepted.
DMP Environment executive director Dr Phil Gorey said implementation of the MRF was a massive task, as Western Australia has more than 22,000 Mining Act tenements.
“We have received very positive feedback from industry stakeholders on the management and implementation of the MRF being described as ‘first class’ and ‘going above and beyond’ to ensure tenement holders were registered,” Gorey said.
“We believe the fund is making history in terms of its progressive forward thinking and ability to provide better outcomes for the environment, mining industry and community.”
Contributions to the MRF will be calculated on the amount and type of ground disturbed as a result of exploration and mining activities.
“The less ground disturbed by an activity, the less the tenement holder has to contribute to the fund, so it acts as an incentive for companies to conduct ongoing rehabilitation as a project progresses, rather than leaving all the rehabilitation until the end,” Gorey said.
Gorey said more than 13,000 individual tenements have submitted disturbance data in the past fortnight.
“It is particularly pleasing to see the high level of prospectors who have successfully registered for the fund,” he said.
“With most prospectors living in regional areas and many not owning a computer, the MRF team held regional registration days to walk people through the online process.”
The fund will generally remove the onus on Mining Act tenement holders having to submit Unconditional Performance Bonds (UPB) as security for mine rehabilitation; however tenement holders and activities considered to be high-risk may still require the maintenance or payment of an UPB in addition to annual contributions to the MRF.
Gorey said the fund will also free up cash previously held UPBs which most tenement holders will be able to use to invest in future projects and ongoing rehabilitation.
“In time, interest earned from the fund will be used to rehabilitate abandoned and legacy mine sites across the State.”
DMP said approximately 1800 individual tenement holders had failed to either register or complete their reporting requirements by the 30 June 2014 deadline.
“Those tenement holders who have not registered or completed their submission will be fined $4000 per tenement under legislative requirements,” Gorey said.
“Tenement holders who have successfully registered will receive their annual invoice for their contribution to the MRF in the coming months.
“Once invoices have been paid, DMP will review existing environmental bonds to see if tenement holders are eligible to have their bonds retired.”