From 1 July 2014, the Western Australian Government will be making the pooled Mining Rehabilitation Fund (MRF) compulsory.
The initiative was first introduced in July last year on a voluntary ?opt in? basis but WA Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Marmion has warned that WA mining tenement holders that don?t register for the MRF by 30 June, 2014 be fined $4000.
The fund is largely replacing the former environmental bonds system which the WA Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) claimed ?did not cover the trust cost of rehabilitating abandoned mines?.
?Bonds discourage investment by tying up significant funds that could be used for developing a mining project and also have to be applied to the specific mine for which the security is held, they cannot be used to address the problem of legacy abandoned mines,? the DMP stated in a MRF fact sheet.
While the fund generally relates to mining projects, quarries that operate on tenements regulated by the Mining Act 1978 will also be expected to contribute. WA quarries that are not regulated by the Act, such as those operating on private land in local government jurisdictions, are exempt.
According to Marmion, more than 50 per cent of tenement holder groups have already registered for the fund and $290 million worth of environmental bonds have been returned.
?It?s a win-win situation,? he said. ?Replacing individual bonds with a shared fund has freed up cash for those companies to re-invest in projects and ongoing rehabilitation.?
Annual company contributions to the fund are calculated on the amount and type of ground disturbed as a result of exploration and mining activities. Interest earned on the fund will be used to rehabilitate abandoned and legacy mine sites across WA.
?Previously, if a company abandoned a mine, the environmental bond would cover only about one quarter of the rehabilitation costs, leaving the State Government to foot the remainder of the bill,? Marmion said. ?The new fund is a leading, world-first policy which will provide better outcomes for the environment, industry and the State Government.?
Quarry operators curious if the fund applies to their project or seeking more information can contact the DMP?s MRF team, tel 08 9222 3162 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: WA Department of Mines and Petroleum