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Licensing glossary

Earth Resources Regulation is the regulator for Victoria's earth resources industries under the following Acts and Statutory Rules (regulations).

Licensing definitions

In the Victorian resource sector, the word licence also describes a tenement, lease, permit, authority or authorisation.

Using this page

Licensing terms are explained here. You can search for a term on this page by using the find tool in your browser. Term definitions are also clustered into the following groups. When it applies, the section will link to relevant legislation.

  1. Mineral resources
  2. Onshore petroleum resources
  3. Offshore petroleum resources
  4. Petroleum authorisations
  5. Offshore greenhouse gas storage
  6. Geothermal energy resources
  7. Special access authorisations
  8. Onshore greenhouse gas storage
  9. Special sequestration access authorisations

At the end of this page there are links to other legislation we administer and related sites.

Licensing and legislation

Mineral resources

Tourist Fossicking Authority (TFA)

A tourist fossicking authority gives a person or company the right to run a commercial tourist operation for visitors to search for minerals on land specified in the authority including private land with landholder consent.

A tourist fossicking authority is different to a miner's right which is used by individual recreational prospectors and fossickers.

Miner's right

A miner's right is a permit for prospecting in Victoria.

It gives a person the right to search for minerals in Victoria on Crown land (where access is allowed) or private land if the land owner or occupier gives you consent, unless the land is covered by a mining licence, prospecting licence or retention licence.

A miner's right is a legal requirement to prospect in Victoria and the holder must carry it at all times and present it to authorities if requested.

Prospecting licence

Prospecting licences allows prospectors and small-scale miners to explore or mine in a specific area.

They can be issued to individuals or corporations. 

The licence provides the holder with the right to apply for a mining or retention licence if they identify a mineral resource.

Prospecting licences are granted for up to five years, and are not renewable.

Exploration licence

An exploration licence gives the licence holder exclusive rights to explore for a specific mineral group(s) within the specified licence area.

During the term of an exploration licence, the area is subject to rules which decrease the licence area.

At the second anniversary of the grant of the licence, the licence area must be decreased by at least 25 per cent. At the fourth anniversary, the licence area must be decreased by at least 35 per cent.

At the seventh anniversary, the licence area must be decreased by at least 20 per cent and at the tenth anniversary; the licence area must be decreased by at least 10 per cent.

An exploration licence does not permit mining, or guarantee that a mining licence will be granted. The licence holder may also apply for a mining or retention licence.

An exploration licence may be granted for up to five years and can be renewed twice.

Retention licence

A retention licence is suitable where a mineral resource is identified but the resource is not yet commercially viable to mine and may become so in the future.

The licence gives the holder exclusive rights to the mineral resource while the company conducts pre-feasibility assessments for commercial viability.

A retention licence may be granted for up to 10 years and can be renewed twice.

A retention licence holder may also apply for a mining licence.

Extractive work authority

An extractive work authority gives quarry operators the right to extract stone (e.g. sand, gravel and hard rock) from land with the landholders consent.

It is granted after a work plan is approved, planning approval is granted, and all other consents required are in place prior to starting work.

Mining licence

The mining licence holder is entitled to mine the land covered by the licence; explore for minerals and construct mining facilities related to the mining operation.

A mining licence can be granted for the time specified in the licence, not exceeding 20 years, unless the Minister decides otherwise, and can be renewed.

Onshore petroleum resources

Onshore petroleum exploration permit

An exploration permit allows the holder to explore for petroleum resources within the permit area.

The permit is granted over an area released for competitive applications that does not exceed 12,500 kilometres.

It is granted for five years and can be renewed for a further five years.

Onshore petroleum retention lease

Only exploration permit holders can apply for a retention lease within the permit area after discovering petroleum.

A retention lease allows the holder to retain exclusive rights to a petroleum discovery, if the petroleum resource is not currently commercially viable to develop, but might become viable within 15 years.

A retention lease can be granted for a term of up to 15 years and cannot be renewed.

Onshore petroleum special access authorisation

A special access authorisation gives the holder the right to explore for petroleum within the authorisation area but does not give exclusive rights to petroleum found.

The holder is not allowed to drill a well.

A special access authorisation is granted for up to one year and is eligible to be extended for another year.

Onshore petroleum production licence

Only an exploration permit or retention lease holder can apply for a production licence.

A production licence authorises the holder to produce and explore for petroleum within the licence area.

The licence is granted for the duration that the petroleum is produced from the ground.

Onshore petroleum special drilling authorisation

Only the holder of an onshore exploration permit, onshore retention lease, onshore production licence, offshore petroleum exploration permit, offshore retention lease or offshore production licence holder can apply for a special drilling authorisation adjacent to its other title.

A special drilling authorisation gives the holder the right to drill a well within the drilling authority area but not exclusive rights to any petroleum found.

Offshore petroleum resources

Offshore petroleum exploration permit

A petroleum exploration permit allows the permit holder to explore for petroleum resources within the permit area.

The permit is granted over an area for six years that was released for competitive applications.

The permit can be renewed for five year periods and each time it is renewed, the areas must be reduced according to halving rules.

Halving rules refer to permit area measurements in blocks. A block is approximately 80 square kilometres.

Under section 106 of the Act, the permit can only cover half the number of block (s) when it is renewed but the maximum allowed number of blocks that the permit can cover when it is renewed changes if there is a declaration of a location (where a petroleum resource has been discovered and declared as a discovery).

Offshore petroleum retention lease

Only petroleum exploration permit holders can apply for a petroleum retention lease within the permit area after discovering petroleum.

A retention lease allows the holder to retain exclusive rights if they discover petroleum if the petroleum resource is not currently commercially viable to develop, but might become viable within 15 years.

A retention lease can be granted for a term of up to five years and can be renewed.

Offshore petroleum production licence

Only an exploration permit or retention lease holder can apply for a production licence.

A production licence authorises the holder to produce and explore for petroleum within the licence area.

The licence is granted for the duration that the petroleum is produced.

Offshore petroleum scientific investigation consent

A petroleum scientific investigation consent gives the holder the right to conduct petroleum exploration activities within the designated offshore consent area specified.

It does not permit drilling a well. Consent is granted for the duration of the exploration activities specified.

Offshore petroleum infrastructure licence

A petroleum infrastructure licence gives the holder the rights to construct and operate an infrastructure facility to recover petroleum offshore where the activities are not permitted under a production licence

The licence is valid for an indefinite term but will be terminated if there is no activity within five years.

Petroleum authorisations

Primary authorisation

Primary authorisation is a term used to refer to a title holder's existing exploration permit, retention lease or production licence or offshore petroleum special prospecting authority.

Only a title holder with any of these titles is eligible apply for an offshore petroleum access authority.

Offshore petroleum special prospecting authority

A petroleum special prospecting authority gives the holder the right to explore for petroleum within the authority area. It does not allow the holder to drill a well.

The authority is valid for up to 180 days.

Offshore petroleum access authority

A petroleum access authority gives the holder the right to conduct petroleum exploration and recovery operations within the authority area. It does not allow the holder to drill a well.

An offshore access authority is granted for the term specified in the authority. It can be renewed for a further specified time.

Offshore greenhouse gas storage

Greenhouse gas assessment permit

The greenhouse assessment permit gives the holder the right to explore the permit area for a potential greenhouse gas storage formation or gas injection site and to inject on an appraisal basis within the permit area.

The assessment permit is valid for six years and can be renewed for an additional three years.

Greenhouse gas holding lease

Only exploration permit or injection licence holders can apply for a greenhouse gas holding lease within the permit area after discovering greenhouse gas storage formation(s).

A greenhouse gas holding lease allows the holder to retain exclusive rights to a greenhouse gas storage formation discovery, if the formation is not currently commercially viable to commence storage operations, but might become viable within ten years.

A greenhouse gas holding lease can be granted for a term of five years and can be renewed only once for a further five years.

Greenhouse gas injection licence

A greenhouse gas injection licence gives the holder the right to inject and permanently store greenhouse gas substances within the licence area specified.

The licence is granted for the duration that greenhouse gas is injected into the storage formation.

Greenhouse gas search authority

A greenhouse gas search authority gives the holder the right to explore for potential greenhouse gas storage formations and explore for greenhouse gas injection sites within the authority area.

It does not allow the holder to drill a well.

A greenhouse gas search authority is granted for up to 180 days.

Greenhouse gas special authority

A greenhouse gas special authority gives the holder the right to conduct activities within a designated authority area but does not allow the holder to drill a well.

The special authority is granted for a specific period by the Minister and can be renewed for a further period specified. 

Greenhouse gas research consent

A greenhouse gas research consent gives the holder the right to explore for potential greenhouse gas storage formations and greenhouse gas injection sites within the consent area.

The consent does not allow the holder to drill a well.

A research consent is granted for the duration of the exploration activities specified.

Offshore infrastructure licence

An infrastructure licence gives the holder the right to construct and operate an infrastructure facility within any offshore area at all.

This is because an infrastructure licence has no prerequisites for it to be tied to an existing tenement holder or an existing tenement.

An infrastructure facility may be built for a petroleum or greenhouse gas injection operation. The licence is granted indefinitely.

Offshore pipeline licence

A pipeline licence gives the holder the right to construct a pipeline in the offshore area specified in the licence.

A pipeline may be used to transport petroleum or a greenhouse gas substance.

A pipeline licence is granted indefinitely.  

Geothermal energy resources

Geothermal exploration permit

An exploration permit gives the holder the right to explore for geothermal energy within the permit area.

An exploration permit can be granted for up to 15 years and can be renewed once for up to five years

Geothermal retention lease

Only exploration permit holders can apply for a retention lease within the permit area after discovering geothermal energy resource.

A retention lease allows the holder to retain exclusive rights to a geothermal energy discovery, if the geothermal energy is not currently commercially viable to develop, but might become viable within 15 years.

A retention lease can be granted for a term of up to 15 years and cannot be renewed.

Geothermal extraction licence

A geothermal extraction licence gives the holder the right to explore and extract geothermal energy within the licence area.

An extraction licence is granted indefinitely.

Special access authorisations

Primary authorisation

Primary authorisation is a term used to refer to a title holder's existing exploration permit, retention lease or extraction licence. 

Only a title holder with these leases, licences and permits is eligible to apply for a geothermal special drilling authorisation or geothermal special access authorisation.

A special access authorisation gives the holder the right to explore for geothermal energy in the authorised area but not to drill a well.

The authorisation can be granted for one year and be extended for another year.

The authorisation expires when the holder's primary authorisation of an exploration permit, retention lease or extraction licence expires prior to the term of the special access authorisation ending.

Geothermal special drilling authorisation

A special drilling authorisation gives the holder of an adjacent exploration permit, retention lease or extraction licence the right to drill a well.

The special drilling authorisation is granted for the term that the holder's primary authorisation relating to the authorisation area is in force.

Onshore greenhouse gas storage

Greenhouse gas sequestration exploration permit

An exploration permit gives the holder the right to explore for greenhouse gas storage formations within the designated permit area.

The exploration permit can be granted for five years and can be renewed for five years.

Greenhouse gas sequestration formation retention lease

Only exploration permit holders can apply for a greenhouse gas sequestration formation retention lease within the permit area.

A retention lease allows the holder to retain exclusive rights to a greenhouse gas formation discovery, if the formation is not commercially viable.

The lease is granted is for up to five years and may be renewed twice for a further five years each time. 

Greenhouse gas substance injection and monitoring licence

Only an exploration permit or retention lease holder can apply for a greenhouse gas substance injection and monitoring licence.

An injection and monitoring licence gives the holder the right to inject and permanently store greenhouse gas substances within the licence area specified.

The licence is granted indefinitely.

Special sequestration access authorisations

Primary authorisation

Primary authorisation is a term used to refer to a title holder's existing permit, retention lease or injection and monitoring licence.

Only a title holder with these leases, licences and permits is eligible apply for a greenhouse gas special access authorisation or a greenhouse gas special drilling authorisation.

Greenhouse gas special access authorisation

A special access authorisation gives the holder the right to explore for greenhouse gas storage formations but does not allow a well to be drilled.

The authorisation can be granted for one year and can be renewed for one year.

Greenhouse gas special drilling authorisation

A special drilling authorisation gives the holder the right to explore for or inject and monitor the greenhouse gas storage formation

Only the holder of an onshore exploration permit, onshore retention lease, onshore injection and monitoring licence, offshore assessment permit, offshore holding lease, or offshore injection licence, can apply for a special drilling authorisation adjacent to its other tenement.A special drilling authorisation gives the holder the right to drill a well within the drilling authorisation area but does not give exclusive rights to any greenhouse gas storage formations found.

Other legislation we administer

These following Acts apply to particular mining or extractive operations over areas of land specified in each Act.

Mines (Aluminium Agreement) Act 1961

This Act applies only to Alcoa's Anglesea mine site in Victoria which no longer operates.

Underseas Mineral Resources Act 1963

This Act allows exploration and mining of minerals within Victoria's offshore area, subject to the provisions of the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990.

Victoria doesn't currently have an offshore minerals industry although this Act caters for future applications.

Extractive Industries (Lysterfield) Act 1986.