The State Government has taken steps to prevent future coal mining in the Margaret River area by terminating all pending applications for coal exploration activities within a 230-square kilometre zone.
Mines and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore said the decision followed Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) advice which indicated coal mining in the area posed an unacceptable environmental risk.
Based on that advice, the State Government rejected the Vasse Coal proposal last February.
"The Government has now decided that the advice should also be applied to the whole of the coal mineralisation extending through the identified 230-square kilometre zone and applications for coal exploration or mining should not be supported," Mr Moore said.
"This decision sends a signal to the industry - applications will not be accepted to explore for or mine coal in this area."
Under the Mining Act 1978, the Minister for Mines and Petroleum can terminate or refuse applications if the Minister is satisfied on reasonable grounds that it is in the public interest to do so. This provision will be invoked if explorers are unwilling to withdraw their coal applications.
"I would emphasise that this decision is based on unique and local circumstances existing only in the Capes region. It will provide some future certainty for local residents and landowners without adding unnecessary sovereign risk to the State's $107billion resources sector," Mr Moore said.
The Minister said any future applications for exploration or mining activities for commodities other than coal in the Capes region would be reviewed on their own merits and would be subject to the same rigorous assessments before any approval would be considered.