On 5 October 2011, the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) released an issues paper on the ASX Listing Rules reporting requirements applicable to reserves and resources reported by listed mining and oil and gas companies. It is of particular importance for those operating in the mining industry as it could result in a regime change towards a more prescriptive form of disclosure for mineral projects, similar to the Canadian standards currently in operation.
Initially, the ASX was working alongside the Joint Ore Reserves Committee (JORC) of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, Australian Institute of Geoscientists and Minerals Council of Australia, which are the sponsors of the Australasian Code for Reporting of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves (JORC Code) in the development of the issues paper, with the intention of producing joint proposals as between the ASX and JORC. The issues paper that was released, however, were proposals of the ASX alone. In fact, JORC has publicly stated it does not support the proposals and has called on the Australia mining industry to support an issues paper it released separately on 17 October 2011 to counter the proposals of the ASX.
Peter Stoker, Chairman of JORC, has raised concerns surrounding the prescriptive nature of the ASX proposals. Given that the JORC Code is used in other jurisdictions, Stoker’s concern is that changes made in Australia could create a stand-alone domestic regulatory framework. Stoker also raised concerns surrounding the materiality standard used in the Canadian standards of disclosure which, he claims, could actually reduce the level of disclosure by Australian mining companies under the ASX proposals.