KALGOORLIE (miningweekly.com) – The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) has welcomed the announcement of a 12-month review aimed at streamlining resources sector regulation.
Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan on Monday announced that the Productivity Commission would conduct the year-long review, looking at best-practice examples of regulation that will remove unnecessary costs for businesses, while maintaining sound oversight.
“Australia’s resources sector plays a vital role in sustaining our national prosperity, employing more than 247 000 people as at May 2019 and making up 73% of goods exports in 2018. It is, however, being held back by complex layers of state and federal regulations,” Canavan said in a statement.
He noted that while resources exports in the 2018/19 financial year reached an all-time record of A$278-billion, Australia could not take this success for granted.
“It has become harder than ever to get new resources projects off the ground, restricting the sector’s future expansion and costing jobs right across Australia.
The Productivity Commission will examine regulatory settings across the sector to highlight best-practice examples from across Australia and against our global peers.
“In particular, improving the efficiency of environmental approvals would reduce the regulatory burden on business. This work will complement the statutory review of national environmental protection law, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, due to commence in October 2019.
“The aim is to ensure that resources projects are transparently and efficiently assessed while upholding robust environmental standards.”
Canavan said that the study would also examine, as a priority, community engagement practices and principles across jurisdictions, including best-practice community engagement, land-access and benefit-sharing practices by industry, governments and other bodies.
“All Australians have a stake in the resources sector and the benefits must be shared fairly.
“The review is an important part of the government’s regulatory reform agenda which is tackling a range of barriers to investment in key industries and activities, with the aim of boosting efficiency, productivity and job creation. The Productivity Commission work will both complement and contribute to the joint Prime Minister and Cabinet/Treasury Deregulation Taskforce currently being established by Assistant Minister Ben Morton.”
The MCA’s CEO Tania Constable on Monday welcomed the review, saying faster approvals for mining projects and greater certainty of process will support more highly paid, highly skilled jobs across Australia.
“Australia’s minerals sector stands for investment, jobs and giving back to regional communities, based on a sensible and commonsense approach to regulation.
“The minerals industry does not want to diminish environmental safeguards or standards, but a more efficient process is needed to meet regulatory objectives through removal of duplicative and unnecessary processes which do not enhance environmental outcomes,” Constable said.
“Our nation also needs to stay ahead of fierce competition so Australian states win back their place in the top ten mining jurisdictions across the globe.”
She noted that the reforms had the potential to unlock up to A$170-billion of resources investment in Australia, enabling the minerals industry to play an even bigger role in supporting and strengthening regional communities.