The WA 2016-2017 budget provided additional minerals exploration funding however hiked up tenement rental charges to combat a $2.77 million shortfall in budget revenue.
By Samantha James
THERE is “good and bad news” in the WA State Budget for hundreds of WA-based miners and explorers, according to the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC).
AMEC called the $30 million investment across 2017-2018 to 2019-2020 in the Exploration Incentive Scheme (EIS) “sensible” but an increase in tenement rental charges and the expected increase in land property values for shire rating purposes a “most disappointing” approach. AMEC supported the budget’s $30 million investment in the EIS and co-funded drilling program as a “means to encourage mineral exploration in WA” and “provid[ing] significant social and economic return to the state”.
It called the additional EIS funding a “perfect complement” to the $100 million announced in the Federal Budget for the Exploring for the Future initiative which enables Geoscience Australia to make pre-competitive data available for state-based geological survey divisions and industry. However AMEC stated the increase in tenement rental charges would lead to a hike in land property as an “unintended double hit for mining and exploration companies which could have been avoided with prior consultation with industry”.
“It is disappointing that this approach has been taken to meet the $2.77 million shortfall in budget revenue for the 2016-2017 year caused by additional staff being appointed to implement the Reforming Environmental Regulation (RER) agenda – which has also been held up by the stalling of the Amendment Bill in Parliament,” AMEC said in a statement.
“AMEC still considers that any budget shortfall could have been dealt with through more efficiency improvements or by using some of the $80.4 million that is forecast to be collected in 2016-2017 from mining tenement rentals.”
AMEC National Policy manager Graham Short said more needed to be done to reduce red tape in government.
“The sensible plans to cut waste, reduce unnecessary spending and red tape in government are essential, as there are limited opportunities to increase revenue in the current economic climate,” he said. “There cannot be a ‘business as usual approach’, as times have changed considerably.
“All Australian mining and exploration companies have had to implement significant savings and efficiency measures to control cash flow and keep their operations viable and sustainable. Governments at all levels have to do the same.”