Parallel processing of approvals

Most of the exploration and development activities undertaken by the resource sector require multiple approvals, often issued by different regulatory agencies. Parallel processing has the advantage of compressing the approval timeframe for proponents. As the lead agency for mining and petroleum developments in Western Australia, the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) is committed to facilitating parallel processing of applications.

DMIRS approach to parallel processing

Parallel processing is relevant where:

  • separate approvals can be assessed concurrently; and/or
  • different agencies can undertake assessment on the same proposal concurrently.

The approach adopted by DMIRS in parallel processing is that it is consistent with obligations that all parties have under local, state and national law. Government and proponents are responsible for ensuring that they are fully informed and meet their statutory obligations.

Parallel processing has been adopted within DMIRS where:

  • there is no disadvantage to third parties;
  • it does not compromise environmental outcomes;
  • there is no statutory constraints;
  • it does not significantly increase workload for the agencies; and
  • proponents can provide the required information.

DMIRS will generally not accept applications where it is judged that another statutory approval is required first. For example, DMIRS would not accept an application for a Program of Work (PoW) if an appropriate Mining Act 1978 title had not been granted.

Proponents may seek professional assistance to ensure that they have all of the relevant and adequate local, state and national approvals before they commence works. DMIRS expects the proponents to know when other approvals are required, and which approval is dependent on another approval.

Table 1 provides information on what constrains DMIRS in both accepting and reaching a decision on an application. Where pre-requisite authorisations are required, proponents should provide evidence of these approvals being in place at the time of their application to avoid any unnecessary delays.

If DMIRS requires advice from other agencies prior to making a decision, the proponent should liaise with that agency and provide a copy of the advice so DMIRS can finalise its decision.

DMIRS will assess and make decisions on applications independent of other environmental and non-environmental approvals, such as:

  • bore construction permits, water extraction licences or bed and banks permits issued by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation under the Rights in Water and Irrigation Act 1914;
  • works approvals and licences issued under Part V of the Environmental Protection Act 1986;
  • approval of mine safety plans authorised under the Mine Safety and Inspection Act 1994;
  • licences to remove flora pursuant to the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950; and
  • approvals and permits issued by a local government authority.

Specific parallel processing arrangements for environmental approvals

While there are multiple authorisations required for mining and petroleum operations, DMIRS will usually assess and make decisions on environmental applications unconstrained by other approvals that are required. The exceptions are listed in Table 1.

Table 1: Circumstances where the status of other approvals is considered in DMIRS environmental approvals

Approval Type

Constraints on acceptance of applications

Constraints on granting of approvals

Evidence required by DMIRS1

Programme of Work (PoW)

Appropriate title for the area of the PoW must be in place for DMIRS to accept the application.

DMIRS will undertake parallel assessment, but will withhold its decision on applications until resolution of:

 
   

i. formal referral under the Environmental Protection Act 1986, and/or

Ministerial Statement or a decision by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) not to assess, together with any relevant report by the Appeals Convenor.
   

ii. consultation and agreement with any other agency as required by condition of tenement, and/or

Correspondence from the other agency confirming that consultation and/or agreement has been met.

   

iii. the area overlaps an aboriginal heritage site while awaiting advice from DIA.

Advice from Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage (DLPH) that the activity will not adversely impact on the site, or that an application has been received by DLPH to disturb the site.

Mining Proposal

Appropriate title for the area must be in place for DMIRS to accept the application (except where the Mining Proposal is submitted accompanying the Mining Lease application as provided for s74 of the Mining Act 1978).

DMIRS will undertake parallel assessment, but will withhold its decision on applications until resolution of:

 
   

i. formal referral under the Environmental Protection Act 1986, and/or

Ministerial Statement or a decision by EPA not to assess, together with any relevant report by the Appeals Convenor.

   

ii. consultation and agreement with any other agency as required by condition of tenement, and/or

Correspondence from the other agency confirming that consultation and/or agreement has been met.

   

iv. a radiation management plan is required

Letter of approval from DMIRS of Radiation Management Plan.

Environment Plan (EP)

Appropriate title (or access authority) for the area of the EP must be in place for DMIRS to accept

DMIRS will undertake parallel assessment, but will withhold its decision on applications until resolution of:

 

 
   

i. formal referral under the Environmental Protection Act 1986, and/or

Ministerial Statement or a decision by EPA not to assess, together with any relevant report by the Appeals Convenor.

   

ii. the proposal is within a Marine Park

Correspondence from Marine Parks and Reserves Authority advising that the proposal will not have an adverse impact on the Marine Park.

Oil Spill Contingency Plan

An approved EP is required to be in place for an Oil Spill Contingency Plan to be accepted

DMIRS will undertake parallel assessment, but will withhold its decision on applications until resolution of:

 

 
   

i. formal referral under the Environmental Protection Act 1986, and/or

Ministerial Statement or a decision by EPA not to assess, together with any relevant report by the Appeals Convenor.

Native Vegetation Clearing Permits

Appropriate title (or right of access) to the land where native vegetation clearing is proposed must be in place, or the proponent must have a Notice of Intention from DMIRS (or another agency) to grant underlying tenure, for DMIRS to accept the application.

DMIRS will undertake parallel assessment, but will withhold its decision on applications until resolution of:

 
   

i. formal referral under the Environmental Protection Act 1986, and/or

 

Ministerial Statement or a decision by EPA not to assess, together with any relevant report by the Appeals Convenor.

   

ii. it must consult with any other agency having a legislative or other interest in the proposed clearing activity.

Correspondence from the other agency providing any relevant advice.

 

1* This refers to the information that is required by DMIRS before it can grant any approval (as relevant to the proposal).