The Mines and Energy Legislation Amendment Bill 2008 (Bill)
(introduced into the Queensland Parliament on 7 October 2008)
proposes to amend the Mineral Resources Act 1989 (Qld) (MRA) to
introduce a public interest test for the approval processes for the
grant, renewal and variation of, and determination of conditions
for, mining tenements in Queensland. While there has always been
some discretion on the part of the Minister and other relevant
decision-makers, this amendment introduces a new element, the
potential scope of which is not yet clear.
The Bill proposes to amend the MRA by introducing a public
interest test in relation to, effectively, all mining tenures,
which moves beyond the current regime where public interest was
only expressly applied to some aspects of mining leases.
Specifically, the Bill amends the provisions of the MRA to require
the relevant decision-maker to consider the public interest when
making decisions that deal with:
the grant, variation, renewal and refusal of mining claims,
exploration permits, mineral development licences and mining
the conditions to apply to mining claims, exploration permits,
mineral development licences and mining leases upon grant,
variation or renewal;
the grant, conditions and cancellation of prospecting
the approval of work programs in relation to exploration
the addition of other minerals to existing mineral development
licences and mining leases; and
the variation of the land used to access mineral development
licences and mining leases.
A purpose of the introduction of the public interest test in the
Bill may be to enable the Government to have flexibility in
relation to concerns about oil shale mining and uranium mining.
However, the application of the public interest test applies to all
mining tenements, not merely those relating to oil shale or
The Bill does not define the term "public interest".
Currently in relation to the MRA, the only points of reference as
to the public interest considerations that the mining registrar or
the Minister might take into consideration are in section 318AK of
the MRA (in relation to overlapping coal and petroleum tenures) and
in limited case law relating to section 269(4)(k) of the MRA.
It is not clear whether this guidance in respect of public
interest will be useful in relation to these new MRA
In the absence of a clear definition of "public
interest", a level of uncertainty arises as to what will be
expected when seeking the grant, variation or renewal of, or
determination of conditions for, mining tenements in Queensland.
Depending on the definition or approach adopted, the Government
will potentially have broader powers to refuse mining tenures and
impose conditions going forward.
If nothing else, it confirms that even if a mining tenement
holder has complied with the requirements of the mining tenement,
it should not assume that the mining tenement will be renewed.
Other amendments in the Bill
The Bill also proposes to make amendments in relation to the
an effective prohibition on the venting or flaring of
incidental coal seam gas by the holder of a mining lease without
first offering to give that incidental coal seam gas to the holder
of an overlapping petroleum lease;
amendments to introduce a common date for annual rental
payments for mining claims, mining leases and mineral development
licences to 31 August;
the introduction of a moratorium on the development of the
McFarlane oil shale deposit; and
the Government's guaranteed assistance package for
Collingwood Park landowners whose properties have been damaged by
If you have any queries about the Mines and Energy Legislation
Amendment Bill 2008, please contact a member of our Energy and
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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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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