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The mining engineering sector in Australia is still struggling to cope with reams of red tape – but a new inquiry report from the Productivity Commission could encourage the government to promote and streamline resource exploration.
Released on March 5, the Commission’s latest inquiry report highlights the current roadblocks hindering exploration in Australia. It drew attention to the fact that much of the current regulations purportedly set up to protect heritage sites and the environment impose “unnecessary burdens” on exploration, and more can be done to encourage mining activity while keeping the best interests of all parties in mind.
According to the report, many explorers believe the government is deliberately discouraging mining exploration by implementing complex, drawn-out processes surrounding compliance costs and approval times. On the other hand, community groups are complaining that current regulations aren’t sufficient to appease those with other interests in the land, for example for agricultural use.
The commission therefore proposed several potential solutions to reform the regulatory processes already in place. For instance, exploration licence approval processes can benefit from “stronger and simpler co-ordination, transparency and accountability”, while efforts can be made to improve awareness around Indigenous heritage protection.
Brendan Pearson, chief executive of the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA), backed the commission’s report and said he hoped it would push the government to finally cut the red tape holding back the minerals industry.
“Too often, regulation has been used as a panacea to placate anti-mining sentiment rather than to protect important environmental or heritage values,” he asserted.
“The industry also welcomes the commission’s recommendation for a one-stop shop approach to managing heritage issues. There is considerable potential for reducing red tape and improving transparency without compromising heritage values to which the industry and the community are rightly committed.”