In a recent decision 1, the Land Court found
that landowner time, in and of itself, is not recoverable as
compensation under the Mineral Resources Act 1989 (Qld)
The Court considered whether the scope of the compensation
provisions in relation to the grant of a mining lease under the MRA
allowed the recovery of landowner time. These compensation
provisions are in all material respects the same as the
compensation provisions applicable to exploration permits and
mineral development licences under the MRA and to petroleum
authorities under the Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act
2004 (Qld) and the Petroleum Act 1923 (Qld).
The specific issue considered by the Land Court was whether the
landowner was entitled to compensation for their time spent finding
a replacement property (see related article to the right).
The Land Court analysed the legislation and concluded that
landowner time cannot be considered a "cost" or
"loss" under the legislation. Therefore a claim for time
spent finding a replacement property is not sustainable unless the
landowner could demonstrate that the loss of their time has or
would be likely to lead to some expenditure that the landowner
would otherwise not have incurred.
The example given by the Land Court for the recovery of amounts
for landowner time was the cost of hiring labour to work in the
business while the landowner was engaged in finding alternate
This reasoning would equally apply to time spent by the
landowner in other activities such as negotiating agreements with
The Land Court also issued a warning that a claim for landowner
time would only be allowed where "such an expenditure has been
made and verified appropriately". This would suggest that, as
a minimum, there must have been a genuine need for the labour hire
to have occurred, the costs of the labour hire must have been
reasonable or appropriate and the person hired must not have been
otherwise obligated to undertake the work.
The Land Court's reasoning in this case recognises that not
all impacts felt by the landowner arising out of resources
activities are recoverable by way of compensation and that time
spent by landowners engaged in some activities, such as negotiating
compensation, is simply an incident of land ownership. This is
consistent with the legal position that both landowners and
resources companies have concurrent rights to be upon and use the
The case leaves open the ability for parties to negotiate
compensation for landowner time purely on a commercial basis.
However, the parties would need to recognise that if no agreement
is reached, no compensation for landowner time would be recoverable
in the Land Court unless an actual cost has been incurred (e.g. in
While the position that compensation does not include landowner
time (unless an actual cost was incurred) should now be taken as
settled law, the Queensland Government is still in the process of
implementing the Newman Government's Six Point Action Plan in
relation to Queensland's land access laws.
Depending on the outcomes of the implementation process, the
position in relation to landowner time could well change if the
Government decides to amend the current law. So while clarity now
exists, it may not last.
1Xstrata Coal Queensland Pty Ltd & Ors v Keys
& Anor; Xstrata Coal Queensland Pty Ltd & Ors v Sky Grove
Pty Ltd; Xstrata Coal Queensland Pty Ltd & Ors v Erbacher; and
Xstrata Coal Queensland Pty Ltd & Ors v Edmonds & Anor
 QLC 34
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