Western Australia resolves mining imbroglio threatening licences

Iron ore production in the Pilbara region of Australia began in the mid-1960s. Credit: Rio Tinto

Western Australia’s government has approved draft legislation that will ensure the security of mining licences and permits in the state, a major producer of iron ore.

The legislation, to be passed retrospectively, will resolve a High Court of Australia ruling in 2017 that theoretically almost annulled nearly all the mining permits in Western Australia because companies may not have submitted all the relevant plans at the time of application.

The judgment prompted companies, including major miners, to resubmit applications for their mining tenements, some of which contained long-established projects.

The state government “will address procedural matters in the Mining Act 1978 to prevent future scenarios like those arising from the High Court’s decision,” it said in a statement on Wednesday.

The legal case evolved from a dispute involving billionaire Andrew Forrest, head of Fortescue Ltd., whose family estate took a small company called Onslow Resources to court to prevent it from sand mining on his Minderoo Pastoral Station.

Lawyers for Forrest argued that Onslow Resources’ mining permit was not valid, because the company had failed to abide by the Mining Act off 1978 by not submitting a mineralization report or mining operations statement at the time of application. Forrest won the case, which left many companies scrambling to resubmit mining plans.

(By Paul-Alain Hunt)


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *