Both the Queensland and New South Wales governments have
recently made announcements about reducing approval time frames and
cutting red tape for exploration and mining.
Queensland – Faster approval process for exploration
The Queensland Government has announced a new approval process
for exploration permit (EP) applications which
aims to reduce the time it takes for an EP to be granted.
The key changes that have been announced by the Department of
Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM) are:
Applicants will be formally advised within 90 days of lodgement
whether their proposed exploration works program has been approved
or rejected. This gives explorers the opportunity to begin
consultation about their exploration program with landholders and
local governments, without waiting for the EP to be granted.
Rent and financial assurance will be requested with the work
program approval notice. Rent and financial assurance are due
either within 20 business days or by the end of the native title
notification period, whichever is the later.
Once all requirements have been finalised (payment of rent and
financial assurance, issue of an environmental authority, and, if
applicable, the native title process), DNRM will aim to grant the
EP within 30 days.
Faster approval decisions
After these changes are in place an application for an EP
subject to native title can be determined in less than 12
An application for an EP not subject to native title can be
determined in six months or less.
Currently it takes an average of 22 months for an EP application
to be processed to the stage where it can be granted or
DNRM have produced a flow chart explaining the new changes
NSW – Amendments to mining lease conditions and Mining
Act processing times
Amendments to mining lease conditions
Last week the NSW Government announced amendments to the
conditions placed on mining leases, aimed at removing duplication
of certain conditions and improving regulatory outcomes.
These changes will reduce the number of conditions on mining
leases as follows:
For future standard coal mining leases – conditions
reduced from 24 to nine.
For other future mining leases – conditions reduced from
23 to eight.
Reducing Mining Act processing times
The NSW Trade & Investment Division of Resources and Energy
(DRE) has recently introduced new time frames for
processing applications made under the Mining Act 1992 (NSW). These
apply to applications for exploration licences, assessment leases
and mining leases.
For applications lodged from 1 July 2013, the following target
time frames apply:
For all mineral applications and renewals: 45 business days
(reduced from 80 business days)
For all coal applications: 95 business days (reduced from 150
For all coal renewals: 55 business days (reduced from 100
Exceptions apply to circumstances beyond DRE's control,
where DRE can "stop the clock" on the processing time
frames. These include:
EPBC Act referral;
native title right to negotiate process;
development consent that is required prior to Mining Act 1992
compliance issues of direct relevance to the application or
any significant unresolved issue with a third party of direct
relevance to the application or mineral title; and
for mining leases only: a significant improvement
determination, an agricultural land determination and an
The clock will restart when the relevant exception has been
addressed. DRE will endeavour to minimise the use of stopping the
clock and where practical, will continue to process applications
while the clock is stopped.
More information about DRE's service delivery standards is
It is a common misconception that the grant of mining tenure, whether it be an Exploration Permit, Mineral Development Licence or Mining Lease, will entitle the holder to access all land within it in order to explore or mine.
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