The public interest test for mining tenements has been
Holders of Mining Leases which overlap with Petroleum
leases must offer incidental Coal Seam Gas to the Petroleum
Lease-holder before flaring or venting.
Public Interest Test For Mining Tenements
The public interest test is not entirely new to the Mineral
Resources Act (MRA), as it is already present for the renewal of an
exploration permit, the renewal or addition of minerals to a
mineral development licence (MDL) and the grant and renewal of
The amendments essentially require the public interest test to
be applied in more situations. For MDLs it has now become relevant
for the grant, the imposition of conditions or variation as well as
varying access to the land the subject of the MDL. For mining
leases, it has been added for the variation, the addition of extra
minerals, access to land and as an element of potential
consideration for the Governor in Council in relation to the
general conditions to which all mining leases are subject. As such,
the holder of, or applicant for, mining tenements will need to
address these public interest issues when making various
applications in respect of their tenements. This could require the
provision of additional information.
There is a definition of "public interest" in the MRA,
but this applies to issues of overlapping mining and petroleum
tenures. It is not clear whether a similar test will apply to these
new uses of the public interest test. Public interest, as defined
for the overlapping tenure regime, means: a consideration of:
government policy, value of commodity production, employment
creation, total return to the state and Australia, social impacts
and overall economic benefit for the State. Some of these issues
can be subjective in their interpretation.
Essentially, the public interest test appears to operate to give
the Government a broad discretion in the exercise of their power
over mining tenements and applicants and holders may consequently
have to deal with less certainty.
New Requirements For Flaring Or Venting CSG
New provisions in relation to the use of incidental Coal Seam
Gas (iCSG) have been introduced where there is an overlap between a
mining lease and a petroleum lease.
Previously, the holder of a mining lease had only two options:
to use the iCSG for its own mining purposes or to vent or flare it
(with some restrictions). The amendment introduces a new
requirement. If the mining lease-holder does not wish to use the
iCSG for its own use, it may give the petroleum lease-holder
written notice that the iCSG is available. The petroleum
lease-holder then has 20 business days to accept in writing. The
term "give" connotes that no payment will be received. If
the petroleum lease-holder does not want the gas, the mining
lease-holder may then flare or vent it. Venting or flaring can only
occur if the mining lease-holder has first offered the iCSG to the
petroleum lease-holder and the petroleum lease-holder has either
declined or has not responded to the offer within 20 business days.
This new requirement has two purposes:
to optimise the use of iCSG by reducing the potential for it to
be flared or vented; and
to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
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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