Australia's big miners have been told to stop data mining

Fortescue boss Andrew Forrest.

Since the WA government established an online database containing information about mining tenements in the state, some miners have been data mining the system to get a jump on new mining plots that are available.

According to The Australian both Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group have been warned about how they have been using the system.

There is a report the companies have been able to access new data through a backdoor in the database.

When mining tenements are given up in the state the Department of Mines and Petroleum is notified and the information is made public. It’s estimated 50 mining tenements are given up every week in the state.

“This data mining had become so intense it was disrupting the department’s online systems,” WA Mines Minister Bill Marmion said.

But mining companies have managed to intercept the data and analyse it to see what tenements are being given up before government authorities are aware the ground has been surrendered.

It shows traditional industries are enlisting the help of data mining tactics to secure a competitive advantage. Snapping up tenements is something that, if there’s resources in the ground, could prove very valuable to the company down the track.

While the government said the practice is a breach of the system’s terms and conditions it isn’t considered illegal.

The DMP said the main players involved in the data mining were Rio, Fortescue and Austwide Mining Title management – a company which secures tenements on the behalf of others.

To stop the practice the DMP will make tenement information available to everyone at the same time via its website. A move it hopes will stop companies mining the DMP’s systems and make information ubiquitous.

There’s more here.

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