Approval times in Western Australia improve

December 10, 2012

Data from the Western Australian Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) found a marked improvement in mining project approval time.
The Western Australian Chamber of Minerals and Energy (CME) welcomed data but said that more needed to be done.

The DMP reported that the average new mining project in Western Australia took just over two years to reach full approval, instead of recent reports that put the timeline at around five years.

“This is an excellent result considering mines are becoming more complex and that proponents face increasingly stringent environmental regulations,” DMP director-general Richard Sellers said. “I am pleased that the state government’s support of the resources industry has also promoted recent strong growth, particularly through the acceleration of approval timeframes.”

The DMP’s 2012 third-quarter approval performance report, which provided the approval timelines for mines referred to the Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority and approved by the state government over the past four years, indicated that it took an average of 28 months to gain approval for a mine in Western Australia, reported.

The approval process covers the time taken by government and the completion of the required documentation by the proponent, which can take up to a year, and includes public consultation and appeal periods. However, it excludes the time taken for the tenement grant and exploration approval process.

“Industry acknowledges the efforts of DMP in reforming mining approvals and looks forward to seeing continued improvement into the future,” said CME CEO Reg Howard-Smith. “The resource sector’s prime concern is that Australia is becoming a less attractive place to develop projects and investment may be driven to other regions because of additional layers of taxation through the minerals resource rent tax and the carbon tax, coupled with rising costs for doing business, an inability to source skilled labour and a lengthy approval process,” he said.

Howard-Smith said that reducing approval times assisted with the positive positioning of the Western Australian resources sector in a global context.

The federal government has backed away from a plan to hand over some environmental approval powers to the state and territory governments. Business Council of Australia president Tony Shepherd said that parties failed to make meaningful progress on the critical reform of eliminating costly double handling of environmental assessments and approvals.


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