Exploration is an essential part of resources development but by its nature involves high financial risk.
To give exploration companies certainty, the Western Australian Government has a clear, legally backed and credible system for progressing from exploration to mining involving licenses for prospecting, exploration and retention (to preserve access to deposits) and ultimately a mining license.
On account of this robust process, the state rates highly for its positive attitude to exploration.
The independent Fraser Institute’s annual survey of mining and exploration companies ranks the world’s mining regions as a ‘report card’ to governments on the attractiveness of their mining policies.
In 2016, the Fraser Institute rated Western Australia among the top three jurisdictions for investment attractiveness in the world, a measure which combines the region’s geologic attractiveness with the effects of government policy toward exploration.
On the overall Fraser Institute Policy Perception Index the state has improved seven positions over the last four years, from 16th in 2012 to 9th in 2016.
Policies such as the Lead Agency Framework and the Exploration Incentive Scheme have contributed to Western Australia's current high ranking.
Through the lead agency framework, projects in Western Australia are assigned to a Lead Agency that works with project proponents to manage government interactions and statutory approvals; helping to improve efficiency and reduce the time taken to deliver projects.
The Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) is the lead agency for mining, petroleum, geothermal and carbon capture and storage proposals. The Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation (JTSI) facilitates major resource and industry infrastructure projects.
To further encourage exploration, the Western Australian Government offers financial incentives under the Exploration Incentive Scheme to stimulate:
- increased private sector exploration activity
- increased geoscience information in greenfield areas
- increased geoscience information at depth below brownfields.
The Western Australian Government also provides easy access to geological and tenement information.
All geological and licence information can be viewed or downloaded from the DMIRS website free of charge, including:
- licence map and mining register
- direct live feed of licence information to client GIS systems
- PDFs of all geological maps and reports back to 1880s
- GIS versions of all geological maps produced since 1991
- GIS and Google Earth versions of the Mining Act licence database downloaded daily
- mineral deposit database