Marmion backs out of fee war

Kalgoorlie Miner - - FRONT PAGE - Jas­mine Bam­ford

Mines and Petroleum Min­is­ter Bill Marmion has bowed to in­dus­try pres­sure on the im­ple­men­ta­tion of con­tro­ver­sial en­vi­ron­men­tal fees, an­nounc­ing the de­fer­ral of any cost-re­cov­ery mea­sures for min­ing ap­pli­ca­tions.

The ap­par­ent back­flip on the July 1 fees roll­out, an­nounced to in­dus­try play­ers by Mr Marmion’s chief-of-staff Colin Ed­wardes, fol­lowed emer­gency meet­ings in Kal­go­or­lie-Boul­der last week­end when the min­is­ter “lis­tened to con­struc­tive in­dus­try in­put”.

“Other fund­ing op­tions have come for­ward and are now un­der con­sid­er­a­tion by my depart­ment,” Mr Marmion said yesterday.

“I am con­fi­dent this ap­proach will help re­duce con­fu­sion and con­cern.”

The back­down has taken the heat out of an is­sue which trig­gered months of fierce lob­by­ing from groups in­clud­ing the Amal­ga­mated Prospec­tors and Lease­hold­ers As­so­ci­a­tion and Gold­fields First, to­gether with MPs from both ma­jor po­lit­i­cal par­ties and in­dige­nous lead­ers.

The scram­ble is now on to claim credit for the move as pol­i­tick­ing over the is­sue con­tin­ues.

State­ments were is­sued yesterday from the As­so­ci­a­tion of Min­ing and Ex­plo­ration Com­pa­nies and the Cham­ber of Min­er­als and Energy, with both in­dus­try bod­ies wel­com­ing the move to freeze the in­tro­duc­tion of fees for as­sess­ment of min­ing pro­pos­als and pro­gram of works.

AMEC chief ex­ec­u­tive Si­mon Bennison de­clared com­mon sense had pre­vailed, while CME chief ex­ec­u­tive Reg Howard-Smith called the move a “sen­si­ble de­ci­sion”.

Oth­ers met the an­nounce­ment ten­ta­tively, with Greens MP Robin Chap­ple and Gold­fields First flag­ging se­ri­ous and en­dur­ing con­cerns with the Min­ing Amend­ment Bill.

Mr Chap­ple said the an­nounce­ment was “sim­ply a de­flec­tion”, say­ing the de­fer­ral of cost-re­cov­ery fees would only put fur­ther stress on small min­ers.

“If the min­is­ter had truly lis­tened to in­dus­try in­put then he would scrap the fees en­tirely,” he said.

“Any­one with half a brain knows prospec­tors and small min­ers are the back­bone of the in­dus­try.”

Gold­fields First spokesman By­ron Moller, while ap­plaud­ing the min­is­ter for grant­ing “tem­po­rary re­lief ”, said mem­bers still had se­ri­ous con­cerns with the Bill, in­clud­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of co­er­cive pow­ers.

All eyes are now on the Depart­ment of Mines and Petroleum to give fur­ther in­di­ca­tion that the in­tro­duc­tion of the fee struc­ture will be abol­ished. It is un­der­stood the min­is­ter will con­sider in­creas­ing rental charges for ten­e­ments across the board to pay for costs as­so­ci­ated with the en­vi­ron­men­tal depart­ment fees re­struc­ture.

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