New prospector rights draw fire

A NEWLY approved proposal to amend the Mining Act and increase prospector’s access to land across WA has drawn fire from a key mining industry group.

The amendment would allow holders of Miner’s Rights entry to land held under granted exploration licences.

There are currently around twenty-six million hectares of WA land held under granted exploration licences.

Under the proposal, much of this area would become available for prospecting by Miner’s Rights holders.

Mines Minister Norman Moore has asked the Department of Minerals and Energy to consult with the mining industry through the MILC to ensure appropriate supporting regulations were implemented.

Association of Mining and Exploration Companies CEO George Savell said the association would contribute to committee discussions “but we will not agree to any amendment that puts our members at risk”.

“We didn’t agree to it, and believe there are very serious basic questions that need to be answered such as how is the Mines Department going to police access?” Mr Savell said.

“Who is responsible for blame when something goes wrong such as environmental damage?”

Mr Moore said access would also be restricted to areas of Crown Land that would exclude access to reserved land and private land area held under exploration licences.

He said the implementation of the proposal would speed up exploration in the current climate of low commodity prices and Native Title delays and should also help eradicate illegal mining.

Mr Savell said Mr Moore’s decision was politically motivated and designed to appease prospectors.

“AMEC doesn’t have an axe to grind with the prospectors – we believe they have a wide range of tenements available to them already,” Mr Savell said.

“The Minister thinks it will boost the industry but it won’t even scratch the surface.

“Exploration expenditure was down $240 million in the past 18 months and I really don’t think the prospectors will make much of a dent in this.

“All the amendment will do is cause long term strife and further complicate an already complex situation,” he said.

Mr Savell said AMEC would be pushing to have separate environmental bond apply to prospectors as it does to its members.

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