On 11 October 2019 the Western Australian government announced that it will introduce a new royalty regime for lithium producers in the form of a 5% feedstock royalty rate for lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate where those are the first products sold and the feedstock is spodumene concentrate.
The announcement comes after a recent review into lithium royalties as part of the government’s Future Battery Industry Strategy and aims to encourage downstream processing of lithium concentrate in WA.
As we previously reported1, a consequence of the High Court of Australia’s decision in Forrest & Forrest Pty Ltd v Wilson2 is unexpected and unhelpful uncertainty regarding the validity of the grant of certain mining leases in Western Australia.
The State Government and the Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) are continuing to assess an appropriate legislative fix for the issues arising out of the High Court’s decision. Although this assessment is ongoing, the DMP has publicly indicated that the legislative fix will not cover mining lease applications which (in DMP’s opinion) are affected by the High Court’s decision. Affected applicants will be required to re-submit new mining lease applications that comply with the relevant requirements of the Mining Act. The DMP has not indicated (at this stage) whether the same approach will be taken for other applications for mining tenure which have similar document lodgement requirements.
In its recent decision in Forrest & Forrest v Wilson  HCA 30, the High Court held that a failure to strictly comply with the technical lodgements requirements of the Mining Act 1978 (WA) (Mining Act) invalidated a decision of the Mining Warden to recommend that a number of mining leases be granted. This overturned two decisions of the Western Australia Supreme Court (at hearing and on appeal) which reached an opposite conclusion.
It also departed from the generally understood position that a mining lease, once granted, conferred on the holder an ‘indefeasible’ mining title that cannot be the subject of subsequent legal challenge on the basis that the tenement was invalidly granted.