Mining companies are required to submit more than one
Mining Lease Application where multiple petroleum tenures
held by different owners cover the whole of a proposed mining
lease application area.
Pursuing a mining lease application as a single application
or as multiple applications was formerly a decision that could
be made at the discretion of the mining lease applicant. But
this is no longer the case. Recent changes to the Mineral
Resources Act mean that, in some circumstances, mining lease
applications must be split.
If a mining lease applicant is seeking a mining lease for
coal or oil shale over an area that is partly subject to
petroleum tenures (ie. authorities to prospect or petroleum
leases) and partly not, then separate mining lease applications
must be made for each of those areas.
Separate mining lease applications will also be required if
there are both petroleum leases and authorities to prospect
over the area of the mining lease application and those
authorities to prospect and petroleum leases are held by
The splitting of mining leases is now mandatory in these
Although the policy rationale for this mandatory splitting
is obvious (ie. splitting the mining lease applications allow
co-ordination arrangements to be negotiated in respect of the
affected part of the mining lease area with the appropriate
parties), this has several implications for miners:
multiple mining leases will require additional
administration and management to prosecute; eg. separate
paperwork for each application;
the applications could proceed at different rates,
meaning that different steps are being taken at different
times, which adds additional management complexity;
there is a risk that some, but not all of the mining
leases will be granted. As it is likely that all of the
mining leases will be required in order to establish a viable
project, the failure of any mining lease application could be
fatal to the project;
other processes relating to the applications will also
need to align with the multiple applications, eg.
environmental authority applications, landowner dealings,
native title processes. All of these processes must now be
organised to fit around the coal seam gas process.
Mining lease applicants will therefore need to carefully
scrutinise the petroleum tenures overlapping the proposed
mining lease area prior to lodging any mining lease application
and will need to develop a strategy for managing multiple
applications around the existing petroleum tenures. This is by
no means insurmountable, but emphasises the importance of
properly developing a full and detailed strategic plan at the
beginning of the application process.
The content of this article is intended to provide a
general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should
be sought about your specific circumstances.
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The article examines the regulation of the oil and gas industry and breaks down the regulatory process state by state.
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