13/11/2007 - 13:48

State calls on mining companies to clean up act

13/11/2007 - 13:48

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The State Government has fined exploration companies Golden West Resources and Hancock Prospecting after an industry review uncovered "widespread environmental and regulatory breaches".

State calls on mining companies to clean up act

The State Government has fined exploration companies Golden West Resources and Hancock Prospecting after an industry review uncovered "widespread environmental and regulatory breaches".

Golden West and Hancock have been fined a combined $91,500 for breaches of their program of work approvals, sparking calls for increased industry compliance by stakeholder bodies.

Resources Minister Francis Logan today called on mining companies to clean up their act, after government inspections of 56 different exploration sites found 46 had breached tenement conditions.

He said he was prepared to remove tenements from offending companies if the problems continued.

The Minister said the breaches included uncapped drill holes, the construction of exploration camps without approval, excessive clearing for drill pads and access tracks and a failure to rehabilitate these areas.

According to the Government, Golden West Resources had been fined a total of $71,500 for a number of offences at mining tenements at their Wiluna West iron ore project, including unauthorised drilling and clearing and the failure to complete rehabilitation.

Hancock Prospecting had been fined $20,000 for the unauthorised construction of a 59-person exploration camp at Roy Hill, 120km north of Newman.

The company incurred a fine last year for unauthorised clearing, Mr Logan said.

A further 10 non-compliant sites were issued with direction-to-modify work practices notices, 26 ordered to provide written explanations and another seven given verbal instructions to undertake work.

If it appears in coming weeks that no progress is being made, the identities of the other offending companies may be made public.

The chief executive of the Chamber of Minerals and Energy Western Australia, Reg Howard-Smith, said the chamber would work closely with the Minister's office to help prevent non-compliance activity.

"CME does not condone non-compliance and requests all affected operators to work cooperatively with DoIR to recify any outstanding works," he said.

The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies policy and public affairs manager Ian Loftus said the minister was within his rights to take appropriate action, saying the industry should be well aware of the rules that apply.

"AMEC has already commenced a number of measures which will assist new entrants and/or those companies that require further training on existing requirements and expectations," Mr Loftus said.

"This will include a new code of conduct, developed in consultation with the DOIR, (which) will be released within 14 days.

"We'll be asking both our members and the industry more broadly to sign up to this code, which acknowledges a commitment to good management practice."

 


The full text of an announcement from Resources Minister Francis Logan is pasted below

Resources Minister Francis Logan has called on mining companies to clean up their act or face losing their tenements, after an examination of exploration sites uncovered widespread environmental and regulatory breaches.

Mr Logan said recent inspections of 56 different exploration sites had found 46 that had breached exploration tenement conditions - an 82 per cent failure rate.

The Minister said the breaches included uncapped drill holes, the construction of exploration camps without approval, excessive clearing for drill pads and access tracks and a failure to rehabilitate these areas.

Some of the breaches had occurred in environmentally sensitive areas of the State.

"This is simply not good enough and I will do everything in my power to ensure that it does not continue," Mr Logan said.

"The worst offenders will be fined but, if these practices continue, I am prepared to remove tenements from offending companies.

"I have also asked the Department of Industry and Resources (DoIR) to review the level and range of fines for such offences. I need to be convinced they are true disincentives."

The Minister said fines had already been issued to Golden West Resources Ltd and Hancock Prospecting.

Golden West Resources had been fined a total of $71,500 for a number of offences at mining tenements at their Wiluna West iron ore project, including unauthorised drilling and clearing and the failure to complete rehabilitation.

Hancock Prospecting had been fined $20,000 for the unauthorised construction of a 59-person exploration camp at Roy Hill, 120km north of Newman.

"Another 10 of the non-compliant sites have been issues with direction-to-modify work practices which must be undertaken or the company risks fines or forfeiture," Mr Logan said.

"The operators of another 26 sites have been ordered to provide written explanations, while the other seven have been issued with verbal instructions to undertake work."

The Minister said DoIR had referred details of the incidents to the Department of Environment and Conservation to investigate whether offences under the Environmental Protection Act had also occurred.
Mr Logan said he was very disappointed with the blatant disregard of regulations and tenement conditions being shown by some small-to-medium mining companies.

"Mining companies are constantly calling on the State Government to speed-up the exploration approvals process and yet, when approvals are granted, some companies are showing a complete disregard for the environment and blatantly disregarding the exploration conditions," he said.

"If the industry wants continued access to sensitive areas of the State, then it has to demonstrate a much higher standard of environmental practice.

"I have asked DoIR to work with the mining sector to encourage and strengthen efforts towards implementing effective codes of practice. I also want them to review the resources it is devoting to regulatory inspections.

"The wealth generated by the current resources boom means there is no excuse for poor performance."

 

 

The full text of an AMEC announcement is pasted below

The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC) has called on the mining industry to ensure that its activities comply with all regulatory requirements.

AMEC's call comes in the wake of comments made by WA Resources Minister Fran Logan, who today [Tuesday 13 November] warned companies that unauthorised activities could result in fines or tenement forfeiture.

Minister Logan indicated that two companies have already been fined.

AMEC's Policy and Public Affairs Manager, Mr Ian Loftus, said, "Based on the facts released by the Minister, some of these breaches are not trivial in nature. The industry would not condone this type of behaviour and would see the Minister as entirely within his rights to take appropriate action - it sends a strong message to those companies whose actions have the potential to do great harm to the industry's reputation and reinforces the need for all parties to act in a socially, environmentally and commercially responsible manner".

"While there have been many new entrants to the industry in recent times, the industry should be well aware of the rules that apply, and there can be no excuse for any wilful breaches of these rules".

Mr Loftus concluded, "AMEC has already commenced a number of measures which will assist new entrants and/or those companies that require further training on existing requirements and expectations. This will include:

  • A new Code of Conduct developed in consultation with the Department of Industry and Resources will be released within 14 days and we'll be asking both our members and the industry more broadly to sign up to this Code which acknowledges a commitment to good management practice.
  • This will be accompanied by workshops and training sessions conducted jointly by AMEC and the DoIR on what is both required and expected.
  • Working with the Minister and DoIR to disseminate information and actively promote the need to meet industry and community standards."

 

 


The full text of an announcement from the Chamber of Minerals & Energy of Western Australia is pasted below

Mineral explorers are being strongly encouraged to abide by the conditions in their Program of Work (POW) approvals, or risk damaging the reputation of the industry, according to the Chamber of Minerals & Energy of Western Australia (CME).

CME is aware that the Western Australian Department of Industry and Resources (DoIR) has found evidence of non-compliance with POW conditions among mineral explorers following a recent DoIR survey.

CME Chief Executive, Mr Reg Howard-Smith, has expressed concern at non-compliance by some explorers.

"Mineral explorers should comply with the conditions under their Program of Work approvals," Mr Howard-Smith said.

"CME does not condone non-compliance and requests all affected operators to work cooperatively with DoIR to rectify any outstanding works".

"CME will work closely with the Minister's Office and DoIR to do whatever is necessary to prevent such non-compliance activity in the future".

Mr Howard Smith said CME and its member companies had worked hard over many years to build the reputation of the industry and to ensure member companies operated to the highest levels of environmental performance and compliance.

"The vast majority of companies are in compliance with the rigorous requirements placed on them to undertake exploration and mining activity in this state."

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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