The Department of Mines and Petroleum will reform its heavily criticised online tenements system after revealing it had reprimanded a number of major companies for “data mining”.
As Mines Minister Bill Marmion yesterday unveiled a new online system designed to eradicate the practice of data mining, the department confirmed “a number of companies” had been caught using the technique.
The process involves companies using software to scan DMP online systems to identify tenements immediately after being surrendered by the previous owner.
While not technically illegal, data mining breaches the DMP’s terms and conditions of its Minerals Titles online system and has attracted the ire of small-time prospectors.
DMP Minerals Titles executive director Ivor Roberts told the Kalgoorlie Miner the Department had approached several companies for data mining.
“DMP has notified a number of companies that they were in breach of the terms and conditions,” Dr Roberts said.
“The adverse impacts were also discussed.”
The constant scanning of data mining software can clog up the DMP’s online databases, as though thousands of individual users are all attempting to access the server simultaneously.
Announcing the new system, which he claimed would bring equity to the industry, Mr Marmion yesterday said the DMP’s database had become so rife with data mining the server had begun to falter.
“This ‘data mining’ had become so intense it was disrupting the department’s online systems,” he said.
“(Under the new system) information will be visible to everyone at the same time, via the department’s website and distributed as a RSS feed, similar to the public lodgement notification of new tenement applications.”
Data mining had previously been raised as a major issue for Goldfields prospectors, who felt it was unrealistic to expect them to compete with companies using the software.
Prospector Mike Charlton said the new online system appeared to be the most appropriate solution to prevent small-timers suffering a disadvantage.
“The start line is not narrow with a point. The start line is five kilometres long and we’re all on the start line and we all get the fair start,” he said. Mr Charlton said the move took away the impediment faced by operators who could not afford the expense of major software.