Exemption from expenditure conditions

Guide on applying for exemption from expenditure conditions for exploration and prospecting licences – temporary for COVID-19

The intention of the Mining Act 1978 is to ensure effective exploration and development and therefore ground should not remain unexplored without compelling reasons.

Section 102 of the Mining Act 1978 provides a mechanism for exemption from expenditure commitments for a given expenditure year.

Reasons for exemption

  • Title to the tenement is in dispute

  • Time is required to evaluate work done on the tenement, plan future exploration or mining or raise capital

  • Time to purchase and erect plant and machinery

  • Ground unworkable

  • Tenement contains a mineral deposit which is uneconomic

  • Tenement contains mineral ore which is required to sustain the future operations of an existing or proposed mining operation

  • Mining on the tenement is prevented or restricted by political, environmental, force majeure, heritage, restrictive conditions placed on the tenement or other issues

  • Aggregate exploration expenditure met for tenements in a project

  • Any other reason which the Minister for Mines and Petroleum considers sufficient to justify an exemption.

Please note that a detailed explanation of the DMIR’s guidelines when assessing each of these reasons is provided in the document Policy Guidelines – Exemption from Expenditure Condition.

Lodgement of an application for exemption

The Mining Act 1978 requires that an application for exemption be lodged on the prescribed form (Form 18) and with the prescribed fee via the department’s website using Mineral Titles Online or at any DMIRS Mining Registrar office. The application must be lodged within 60 days after the end of the year to which it relates.

The applicant should note that a brief reason for exemption must be stated on the application (Form 18) in addition to and against the subsection under which exemption is being sought. A statutory declaration must be lodged within 28 days of the lodgment of the application for exemption. In the event that the statutory declaration cannot be lodged within 28 days, an extension of time must be requested by the applicant, stating reasons why the statutory declaration cannot be lodged in time.  This request must be lodged at the DMIRS Perth office.  The applicant should also ensure that all relevant detail and evidence is included in the statutory declaration in support of the subsection and accompanying reason stated on the application. This is not applicable for an application for exemption lodged exclusively for COVID-19 reasons under regulation 55.

The application will be published on the DMIRS website for the relevant objection period. Should no objection be lodged against the application, it will be forwarded to Perth for determination by the Minister for Mines and Petroleum.

In the event that an objection is lodged against an application, the exemption cannot be determined until the Warden has made a recommendation to the Minister responsible for the Mining Act 1978, or, the objection has been withdrawn by the objector or dismissed by the Warden and an Order made to this effect is made by the Warden.

Assessment and determination of applications for exemptions

The application for exemption is assessed by DMIRS, based upon the information provided by the applicant.  The supporting evidence provided in the statutory declaration will only be taken into account where it is consistent with the subsection stated on the application.  The tenement holder will be advised once the application has been determined.

Refusal of applications for exemption - forfeiture action to commence

The refusal of an exemption will result in the commencement of forfeiture proceedings by DMIRS.

In respect to Exploration Licences and Mining Leases, the tenement holder will be issued with a Notice of Intention to Forfeit as provided in Regulation 50. The tenement holder may then make a submission for the Minister for Mines and Petroleum’s consideration.

Anything the applicant considers relevant may be included in the submission. Of particular interest to the Minister for Mines and Petroleum would be details of any work planned (or work already being undertaken) on the tenement in the current period.

Following consideration of the submission, the Minister for Mines and Petroleum may take no further action, impose a penalty (fine), or forfeit the tenement pursuant to Sections 96A or 97 of the Mining Act 1978.

If forfeiture is commenced in respect to prospecting licences, the provisions of Regulation 49 will apply. The Warden, as he thinks fit in the circumstances of the case and depending on the mitigating circumstances brought to his attention by the tenement holder, may take no further action, impose a penalty (fine) or forfeit the tenement pursuant to Section 96 of the Mining Act 1978.

Note: There is no provision in the Mining Act 1978 for the refund of the application fee if an application is withdrawn (minimum expenditure commitment has been subsequently met and an amended Form 5 lodged) or lapsed (upon the death of the tenement).