Billion-dollar refund guards WA mining jobs

Image credit: SXC user engindeniz

Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Marmion has announced the billionth dollar returned to the mining industry, six months after the launch of Western Australia’s world-first Mining Rehabilitation Fund.

Image credit: SXC user engindeniz
Image credit: SXC user engindeniz

“The fund is a big winner for jobs and the industry during this challenging time for our resources sector,” Mr Marmion said.

“This money was previously tied up in environmental bonds but is now back with companies and helping boost their exploration and mining activities.”

Under the old bond system, which was replaced with a more affordable annual levy, the Department of Mines and Petroleum was holding about $1.2 billion in unconditional performance bonds as security to ensure operators met their rehabilitation requirements following mine closure.


Mr Marmion said Western Australian nickel, copper and gold exploration company Great Western Exploration Limited was one company whose recent bond retirement pushed the total past $1 billion.

“The company tells me it’s been a game-changer,” the Minister said.

“Under the fund, cash previously required for bonds can now be used immediately on exploration, meaning projects can progress faster with the same budget.”

Great Western Exploration will use its retired bonds for more drilling at the Finlayson project, where it recently identified an exciting new gold prospect.

Under the fund, some tenement holders’ bonds will be retained by the department due to concerns including previous non-compliance with environmental conditions. These tenement holders are still required to pay the annual levy.

“Aside from supporting jobs and investment, the fund encourages companies to progressively rehabilitate sites, as their annual fund contribution will then be reduced,” Mr Marmion said.

WA has 22,086 tenements and about 17,000 abandoned mine sites. According to the Minister, interest from the fund will boost rehabilitation of abandoned mine sites.