What are the rights and responsibilities of exploration and mining licensees?
The Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990 grants exclusive rights, subject to conditions, for a licensee to explore for minerals.
Granting a licence doesn't immediately provide licensees with authority to begin work.
For mining, and in some cases exploration, the licensee must obtain consents and approvals from other government agencies, ministers and people including landholders before they can commence work.
What are the obligations of a licensee under a mining licence?
The licensee has number of obligations under a mining licence including:
- a duty to consult with the community
- managing environmental impacts
- considering public safety and land use concerns
- negotiating access and/or compensation agreements with landholders.
When commencing activities, licensees are also obliged to:
- minimise interference with regular landholder activities on the land such as farming
- follow public safety and environment planning regulations
- maintain and repair all structures, equipment and property used in connection with minerals exploration and mining operations
- continue consulting with the local community during the activities (from exploration through to development, operation, closure and rehabilitation).
What are the consultation and community engagement requirements of the licensee?
The licensee must produce a community engagement (CE) plan that clearly identifies the community and describes how, when and what engagement will take place with that community and landholders during all stages of the project.
Note: Exploration licensees are not required to develop a CE plan although, like mining licensees, they have a duty to consult from exploration and operational phases through to rehabilitation.
The licensee must tell the landholder and community about activities authorised under the licence that may affect them and ensure they are provided with reasonable opportunities to express their views.
What varieties of consultation are used?
Consultation may include:
- face-to-face meetings
- notice boards
- information flyers
- written electronic surveys
- hotline or phone-in opportunities
- media advertising
- invitations for submissions at public exhibitions or online.