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The effect of the introduction of the Mining Rehabilitation Fund in Western Australia - An empirical analysis

Chong, Jia-Zhen Pearl (2017) The effect of the introduction of the Mining Rehabilitation Fund in Western Australia - An empirical analysis. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Mining is a key driver of Australian economic development, particularly in resource-rich Western Australia. Ensuring adequate rehabilitation of mine sites after the completion of mining has been an ongoing challenge for Australia’s states and territories. Mining securities and financial assurance frameworks have sought to achieve compliance in this area through a combination of the use of performance bonds, inspection and monitoring, and societal pressure.

Outcomes have been mixed at best, and Western Australia has a significant legacy of abandoned mine sites, which represent a substantial potential liability for the State. To address these issues, the Western Australian state government introduced a new mining securities system, the Mining Rehabilitation Fund, which commenced in 2013.

This thesis analyses the objectives and the impacts of the Mining Rehabilitation Fund in Western Australia. It does so using an empirical approach based on interviews with lawyers with experience in the application of the Mining Rehabilitation Fund, and aims to advance understanding of the Mining Rehabilitation Fund by comparing their experiences against theoretical analyses on mining securities to date. It also considers concerns raised by interviewees about mining securities within the wider framework.

This thesis suggests that, while in its early stages, the Mining Rehabilitation Fund has been successful in establishing a pooled fund to address the issues of abandoned mine sites and legacy mine rehabilitation. It has achieved this without placing an unreasonable financial or administrative burden on the industry.

However, the Mining Rehabilitation Fund’s effectiveness is reduced by the ongoing exclusion of State Agreement mines. The Mining Rehabilitation Fund also provides little incentive to undertake progressive rehabilitation for mine operators. The risks to the State in instances of operator insolvency appear to have increased, and therefore the State may have acted too rapidly in returning most of the performance bonds, at least before completion of a transitional period.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Law
Supervisor(s): Goodie, Jo
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