The WA Minister for Mines and Petroleum has announced relief measures for the holders of mining tenements that may be unable to meet financial commitments on their WA tenements for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Full details of the measures are yet to be released (and are expected in the coming days) however a media announcement released on Friday indicates that the Minister has enabled new grounds for an exemption from exploration expenditure if a tenement holder is unable to meet expenditure requirements as a direct result of COVID-19 or because of restrictions imposed by the State and Federal governments.
This arrangement is expected to be in place until 31 March 2021.
We are still waiting on further information as to whether this exemption will apply to all types of tenements and whether a COVID-19 exemption application will be subject to the same objection process that applies to the existing exemption application regime.
The minister also announced relief in respect of tenement rent payments, with holders able to apply to DMIRS under the existing mechanism which allows tenement holders to seek an extension of time to pay.
Mining and exploration operations in WA (and nationally) are likely to come under increasing pressure from tightening travel restrictions (both intra and interstate) and workplace distancing controls introduced by State and Federal Governments to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Mining and exploration companies should ensure that they understand what relief measures are available to their circumstances.
HWL Ebsworth will continue to monitor the changing situation. Please contact Michael Boyce on firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or require assistance.
The WA State government media statement is available here.
This article was written by Michael Boyce, Partner and Sally Scott, Senior Associate.