The resources extracted in the region include oil and gas, mineral sands, talc, construction materials and iron ore. Although mining activities require environmental approval, the widespread exploration for resources and their associated extraction and transport results in some impacts to land and possibly biodiversity resources. The extraction of iron ore is also increasing in the region, with a number of resource companies investing in the industry.
Currently activities are focused at operations in:
- Karara (Gindalbie Metals Ltd.),
- Blue Hills (Sinosteel Midwest Corporation Ltd.),
- Mummaloo (Top Iron Pty. Ltd.) and
- Extension Hill (Asia Iron Australia Pty. Ltd.).
Information on WA petroleum activities, applications and approvals can be found on the Department of Mines and Petroleum website.
Hydraulic fracturing or fracking, is a highly controversial issue in the NAR and has been subject to close community scrutiny. The process involves blasting sand, chemicals and millions of litres of water underground to rupture rock and release ‘unconventional’ gas reserves (Science Network WA, 2013). In WA these on-shore gas reserves are primarily shale and tight gas. Potential risks and impacts associated with fracking include the use, storage and disposal of water, potential chemical contamination of groundwater and disruption to aquifer connectivity.
In December 2014 the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) released Environmental Protection Bulletin No. 22 (EPB 22)- Hydraulic fracturing for onshore natural gas from shale and tight rocks replacing EPB 15.
The purpose of EPB22 is to:
- define the circumstances under which the EPA will assess proposals that include hydraulic fracturing;
- outline the EPA’s expectations for EIA with respect to hydraulic fracturing activities; and
- ensure that the EPA has sufficient information to undertake a thorough assessment of impacts and risks to the environment from proposals involving hydraulic fracturing.
The focus of this bulletin is on those activities and potential environmental impacts specifically related to hydraulic fracturing, which have not routinely been assessed by the EPA, and not on the broader range of environmental issues which may be associated with the development of gas resources from shale and tight rocks (EPA, 2015).
The Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) is the lead agency responsible for the regulation of unconventional gas activities in WA. In 2012 a number of community workshops were held in the Mid-West to discuss this issue, the full report is available from the DMP website.
Subscribe to the DMP Shale and Tight Gas RSS Feed for the latest industry news and updates on shale and tight gas.
The following three DMP databases provide information specifically related to natural gas from shale and tight rocks.
- Environmental Assessment and Regulatory System – Environment Approvals New regulations introduced in 2012 require full chemical disclosure and public access to summaries of industry environment plans.
- Western Australian Petroleum and Geothermal Information Management System (WAPIMS) is a petroleum exploration database containing data on titles, wells, geophysical surveys and other related exploration and production data. The database also contains information on mineral boreholes drilled in the State.
- Petroleum and Geothermal Register (PGR) provides information relating to Petroleum and Geothermal titles.
Make up your own mind
The resources below provide three different points of view: research & regulation, anti-fracking and industry to help you make an informed decision on this issue.
CSIRO on fracking.
Frack Free WA is a WA based action group who are concerned about the unconventional gas fracking industry.
The Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA), is the peak national body representing Australia’s oil and gas exploration and production industry. Read their information about fracking.
Mining Tenements and Sites Map
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Data courtesy of the Geological Survey of Western Australia, Department of Mines and Petroleum. © State of Western Australia 2013