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Exploration Licence Application Kit

Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990

Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR)

Victoria, Australia

This kit is designed to assist in the completion of the Exploration Licence Application Form. The application requirements are outlined in Section 15 of the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990 (MRSDA) and Schedule 2 of the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) (Mineral Industries) Regulations 2013 (MRSDMIR).

How to use this kit:

  1. You will need this kit and access to the RRAM Business Portal. If for any reason, access to RRAM cannot be obtained, applications can be submitted using a copy of the latest version of the Exploration Licence Application Form which sets out the requirements of Schedule 2 of the MRSDMIR.
  2. Answer each question in order, following the instructions in this booklet.
  3. When you have finished, make sure you have answered every question correctly.
    Note: Section 117 of the MRSDA provides that a person must not, by any false statement, misrepresentation or other dishonest means, obtain or attempt to obtain a licence. Penalties apply.
  4. If you are not using the RRAM Business Portal, sign the application, include all attachments, and submit it to:

    Earth Resources Information Centre

    Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources
    Level 15, 1 Spring Street,
    Melbourne VIC 3000

    (GPO Box 2392
    Melbourne VIC 3001)


    Opening hours: Monday to Friday 9: 00am to 4:30pm


  5. Note that the application date, for the purposes of the MRSDA, is the date that the Information Centre receives the complete application.
  6. It is important that you complete all questions on the Application Form and include all relevant attachments, otherwise the application cannot be accepted. You should also be aware that your application should be as comprehensive as possible, as your application may be competing against other applications lodged on the same day. If there are competing applications (overlapping the same land and lodged on the same day), then the order of ranking is given after an assessment of the relative merits of the applications and the ability of the applicants to meet certain requirements. In the event that competing applications are received, each application will only be assessed on the details lodged with the application on the day it was lodged. In this instance, DEDJTR may request clarification on details however there is no ability to add further details to the application.
  7. If you have any further queries, contact the Earth Resources Information Centre of DEDJTR on 1300 366 356 or by email mbc.info@ecodev.vic.gov.au

    Note
    : Information provided on the application form may be disclosed to another government organisation for the purposes of administering or enforcing the MRSDA or a relevant Act and to the public for the purpose of land use advice.

    Further information is available on the Energy and Earth Resources website, see: Mineral Exploration and Mining Requirements.

Contact the Information Centre for further information.

The Application Process

Acceptance of application

Only valid applications will be accepted. Acceptance of an application takes place at the Earth Resources Information Centre, Melbourne

To be considered valid, an exploration licence application must contain all the information listed in Schedule 2 of the MRSDMIR and any relevant requirements in section 15 of the MRSDA. An application cannot be made over land that:

  • is covered by an existing licence or application (unless made on the same day); or
  • was covered by a previous licence or application less than 28 days ago; or
  • is exempted from licences or applications (includes National and State parks); or
  • is currently subject to a tender process.

Ranking

After your exploration licence application is accepted by DEDJTR, and if there are no competing applications, you will be informed by letter that your application has highest ranking. If there are competing applications, the order of ranking is given after an assessment of the relative merits of all competing applications and the ability of each applicant to meet certain requirements.

You will be informed by letter of the outcome.

Requirements to process application

Once your application is given highest ranking, you are required to advertise the application to notify the public of your intentions and provide the opportunity for objections. Your application is assessed to ensure that:
  • you are a fit and proper person to hold a licence;
  • that you have an appropriate program of work; and
  • that you are likely to be able to finance the proposed work and any rehabilitation.
DEDJTR may also refer the application to other agencies for comment and advice of any land and heritage protection issues.

Fit and Proper Test

The matters to be considered by the Minister in determining whether a person is fit and proper, include whether the person has previously:
  • failed to undertake rehabilitation required under the MRSDA and the Minister has taken action to rehabilitate the land under section 83 of the MRSDA;
  • had a licence cancelled under the MRSDA;
  • been convicted of an offence against the MRSDA; or
  • been convicted of an offence involving fraud or dishonesty.
A person will not be considered fit and proper if they are currently an insolvent under administration.
In determining whether a person is fit and proper the Minister is not limited to consideration of the above matters.

Appeals to the Mining Warden where there is a dispute

The MRSDA provides that an applicant or a licensee may refer a dispute to the Mining Warden. The Mining Warden will hear the dispute and make a recommendation to the Minister or the Department Head. A dispute can arise under the MRSDA between:
  • a licensee or an applicant and the Department Head or an employee of DEDJTR; or
  • a licensee or an applicant and the holder of a miner’s right; or
  • a licensee or an applicant and the owner or occupier of land; or
  • a licensee and another licensee or an applicant for a licence; or
  • an applicant and another applicant; or
  • a member of the public and the Department Head (or an employee of DEDJTR) in relation to work under a licence that directly and substantially affects, or is likely to affect, the member of the public.
It is important to note that a dispute does not include an action taken by the Minister (or the Minister’s delegate). Consequently, any correspondence forwarded by the Minister or the Minister’s delegate in relation to an action or proposed action e.g. proposed refusal, cannot be referred to the Mining Warden.

Native Title

If the application area includes Crown land requirements (other than Crown land where native title has been extinguished), the licence may be subject to native title and DEDJTR cannot grant the licence until you have met the “future act” provisions of the Commonwealth Native Title Act 1993 (NTA) or have complied with the relevant land use activity agreements under the Traditional Owners Settlement Act 2010 (TOSA).

Note: – The TOSA allows the Victorian Government to make agreements to recognise Traditional Owners and their rights in Crown land, in return for withdrawing native title claims and an agreement not to lodge future claims. Further information about the TOSA is available from the Department of Justice and Regulation Native Title Unit (refer – www.justice.vic.gov.au).

You may choose from the following options (where applicable and if required):

  1. Excise all Crown land except those areas where native title has been extinguished (such as roads and road reserves) and therefore remove the obligation under the NTA or the TOSA; or
  2. Retain the Crown land and comply with the Right to Negotiate provisions of the NTA; or
  3. Retain the Crown land and reach an Indigenous Land Use Agreement under the NTA; or
  4. Retain the Crown land and comply with the relevant land use activity agreement under the TOSA.

You should consider the above options in relation to native title before you submit your application. There is a place on the application where you must indicate your choice so that processing of the application is not delayed.
Roads and road reserves are taken as having extinguished native title. However, there may be other areas of Crown land where native title has been extinguished by some previous exclusive possession act such as a commercial or residential lease.

If you choose option 1 you must assume that the only pieces of Crown land remaining within the licence area are roads and road reserves - unless you can demonstrate to DEDJTR’s satisfaction that native title has been extinguished on other pieces of Crown land. If you choose options 2 or 3 and then demonstrate to DEDJTR’s satisfaction that native title has been extinguished by some previous exclusive possession act over all the Crown land within the application, then the NTA would not apply.

After Grant

On grant, DEDJTR will send you the registered licence document and information to enable you to start preparing for exploration.

You can start reconnaissance exploration immediately, provided it does not involve:

  1. the use of equipment (other than non-mechanical hand tools) to excavate on the land; or
  2. the use of explosives on the land; or
  3. removing or damaging any tree or shrub on the land,

and you have the required public liability insurance and the appropriate consents.

Note: Consent to undertake the exploration work described above on private land requires the licensee to obtain either written consent or informed verbal consent of the owners and occupiers of the affected land. (Refer Section 43(1)(ea) of the MRSDA). Other consent requirements for the above exploration work, including consent to work on restricted Crown land, are set out in section 44 of the MRSDA.

While you do not need an approved work plan to start low impact exploration (as defined by Schedule 4A of the MRSDA) on an exploration licence, other requirements and consents do apply, as set out in section 43 of the MRSDA.

If required, the work plan must contain all the information specified in Schedule 14 of the MRSDMIR. Further information on exploration work plans is outlined in the Exploration licence guidelines, the Standard Work Plan guidelines and the Area Work Plan guidelines, all available on the Energy and Earth Resources website.

Note: - The program of work submitted with the licence application must be completed, in accordance with Schedule 14 of the MRSDMIR. The program of work may only be varied with the agreement of the Department Head.

During the term of the licence, the Department Head may request updated details of the proposed program of work to be provided by a specified date. The licence holder must comply with any such request.

Expenditure, Reporting, Rent and Relinquishments

You must also comply with the conditions of your licence and report on your exploration activities annually. A condition of the licence is that you must spend a specified minimum amount on exploration activities for each year of your licence. Once a licence is granted, the annual Activity and Expenditure Return and the annual Technical Report must be submitted within 28 days after the specified reporting date (Regulations 35 & 36). Failure to submit the annual Activity and Expenditure Return by the due date may result in an infringement notice being issued.

Reporting requirements are outlined in the MRSDMIR and licensees will be required to provide an annual activity and expenditure return and a technical report in relation to any exploration activities undertaken under the licence. Further details are outlined in the exploration licence guidelines.

The holder of an exploration licence must pay rent in relation to the land covered by the licence as at 30 June annually and an invoice will be sent to you.

On the second, fourth, seventh and tenth anniversaries of licence grant you are required to decrease the area of your exploration licence by 25%, 35%, 20% and 10%, respectively. DEDJTR will ask you to identify the areas to be cancelled by written notice at least 60 days before the anniversaries. If you do not identify the areas for relinquishment, the Minister’s delegate may choose the areas.

Exploration licences are granted for a maximum of five years or a lesser period as determined by the Minister. An exploration licence may be renewed twice, for a period of five years or a lesser period as determined by the Minister, although a second renewal may only be granted where there are exceptional circumstances.

Exploration Licence process

exploration-licence-process

View the Exploration Licence Process

Questions 1 & 2

  1. Complete, for each applicant, surname, given names, title and date of birth details. Alternatively, if the applicant is an incorporated company, enter the Name of Incorporated Company and ABN (Australian Business Number).

    Applications made by a company must be accompanied by a list of directors and company secretary of the company (including their respective dates of birth details) and a copy of the certificate of registration of the company or certificate of registration on change of name.

    Note: At the time of lodgement the applicant(s) for a licence must be a legal entity. Applications made under trading names are not acceptable. As a company does not come into existence until incorporation, applications made by an unincorporated company will be invalid.

    If the applicant is a registered company, it must give its registered business address. If the applicant is an individual, they must give a physical address (e.g. street number and name). A Post Office (PO) Box address is not acceptable but may be used for the correspondence address.

    If there are more than two applicants, please indicate and include details of these applicants on a separate page attached to the application.
  2. Applications made by agents or other persons on behalf of companies or individuals must be accompanied by a signed authorisation by the applicant(s) to act on their behalf with respect to the licence application. If this is not done, the application will be invalid and will not be accepted.

    If the agent is acting for the applicant(s) on more than one licence application, a copy of the authorisation must accompany each new application, and the original authorisation must be lodged with DEDJTR.
  3. Indicate if the agent is to be the contact point for all enquiries regarding the application.
  4. If the contact address for correspondence differs from the business address, complete the address for correspondence regarding this application. If the agent is to be the usual contact point for all enquiries regarding this application, enter the agent’s address here.

Note

Withdrawal of an application

You may withdraw an application in whole or part, by delivering a signed notice of withdrawal to the Earth Resources Information Centre. Any land that you withdraw from the application after you have been given ranking is marked as “moratorium” in the spatial database and becomes available for application in 28 days.

Question 3

  1. Quote the name(s) of the 1:100,000 Mapsheet(s) over which the application area extends. These maps can be obtained from the Earth Resources Information Centre.
  2. Obtain a print-out of the application area from DEDJTR. This will benefit you because it will show all areas which are unavailable for an exploration licence or that require particular consents (e.g. existing licences, certain Crown lands, etc.). Mark the area you are applying for on this map to assist in identifying the area of the application.
    Note: A Geocentric Datum of Australia, 1994 (GDA) map grid showing the area covered by the application must be supplied with the application.
  3. Calculate the area covered by the application, in graticular sections, and enter it in the application. You are not required to enter the graticule numbers. Note: There are shape restrictions for applications for exploration licences - the application may not contain isolated or fragmented parts (ie. it must be a single contiguous block). In addition, the application area should consist of complete graticular sections as much as possible unless a boundary abuts an unavailable area (such as an existing licence or a National Park).

Image showing map with the Exploration Licence Application Area marked out in a continuous blue line using the GeoVic mapping tool

Question 4

Under the Native Title Act 1993 (NTA) you are required to comply with the Right to Negotiate provisions of the NTA or reach an Indigenous Land Use Agreement. A booklet "Information regarding the processing of minerals tenements under the Native Title Act 1993" is available from DEDJTR. The booklet is intended as a guide only and is not legal advice. Please rely on your own legal advice about native title prior to making decisions about your interests.

Option 1: Excise all Crown land except those areas where native title has been extinguished

If you have chosen option 1, then your application is assessed to ensure that the requirements of the relevant sections of the MRSDA have been met.

If Crown land has been excised from the application, leaving pockets of unallocated land within the application boundaries, DEDJTR will exempt these pockets of land from other licences, so that you can conduct your exploration program in an orderly manner.

Options 2 & 3: Applications with Crown land (other than Crown land where native title has been extinguished)

If you have chosen option 2 or 3 you need to meet the requirements of both the MRSDA and the NTA. These processes are conducted in parallel and both must be completed before the licence can be granted.

Option 4: Applications with Crown land where there is a relevant land use agreement under the TOSA

If you have chosen option 4, you need to meet the requirements of both the MRSDA and the TOSA. These processes are conducted in parallel and both must be completed before the licence can be granted.

Question 5

Complete the estimated annual expenditure for each year of the licence. DEDJTR has expenditure guidelines for exploration (see below). These are the minimum requirements. The expenditure condition applying to a licence will generally be the minimum annual requirements set out below. Where the proposed expenditures submitted with the licence application or a tender for a licence (under section 27 of the MRSDA) are higher than the minimum requirements, the proposed expenditures will be used as the licence expenditure condition.

The minimum expenditure for each year is (a x b) + c, where:

a = the relevant rate per graticular section;
b = the number of graticular sections in your exploration licence; and
c = the base level of expenditure per year.


YEAR

FIXED
(c)

METALLIC* MINERALS
$ per GDA94 graticular section

NON-METALLIC** MINERALS
$ per GDA94 graticular section

1

$15,000

150

75

2

$15,000

200

120

3

$15,000

200

120

4

$15,000

200

120

5

$15,000

300

150

* eg Gold, Silver, Copper, Lead, Zinc, Antimony **eg Mineral Sands, Diatomite, Kaolin, Coal.

Refer to the Exploration licence guidelines for an outline of the items that can be claimed against expenditure requirements on the licence and the progressive expenditure over the licence term. The Exploration licence guidelines also list the items that cannot be claimed against expenditure requirements on the licence, the proportion of expenditure claimable for office-based activities and the proportion of expenditure required on sub-surface evaluation activities.

Question 6

In order to comply with the provisions of section 15(6)(d) of the MRSDA relating to the applicant’s ability to finance the proposed work and rehabilitation of the land, the following information is required to support the application:

Companies (with an audited financial report):

  • Net equity (obtained from the balance sheet of the audited financial statements);
  • Professional expertise in lieu of expenditure (refer to note below);
  • Line of credit from a recognised financial institution; and/or
  • Prospectus (must be underwritten).

In completing the application, you are required to enter in the amounts against each field. In respect to audited reports, you only need to write down the Net Equity figure.

Individual or Companies (without an audited financial report):

  • Bank statement (no older than six months);
  • Professional expertise in lieu of expenditure (refer note below);
  • Line of credit from a recognised financial institution;
  • Prospectus (must be underwritten);
  • List of Plant & Equipment (owned by the applicant) - to be used for the purpose to which the application applies; and/or
  • Share certificates.

In completing the application, you are required to enter in the amounts against each field. In respect to providing a bank statement, the applicant must advise of known liabilities that will affect the balance of the bank statement within a twelve month period. DEDJTR reserves the right to seek from the applicant a copy of an updated bank statement at any time during the life of the licence.

DEDJTR measures your ‘Net Financial Position’ against the required expenditure for the application if granted for the first two years (i.e. the ‘Net Financial Position’ must exceed the required expenditure). Only the above information will be accepted as demonstrating the applicant’s ability in meeting section 15(6)(d) of the MRSDA.

All information relating to financial details must be no older than six months at the time the information is submitted. You must disclose whether any of the applicants is an undischarged bankrupt, is in receivership or is under administration.

Value of own labour

Salaries and own labour costs (for individuals) should be claimed against the relevant activity being undertaken (and not claimed as a separate item). e.g. a proportion of the expenditure claimed against drilling would include any related salaries and labour costs for that drilling over the relevant period. Claims for own labour expenditure must be substantiated by records of hours worked, rates of pay and qualifications and experience.

Question 7

Provide details of the field of expertise of person(s) undertaking the exploration program, including the applicant’s expertise and technical advisors to be engaged (e.g. geologist, engineer).

If these advisors are not employees of the applicant, you should indicate so in the place provided on the form. A statement, signed by the technical advisor agreeing to act for the applicant, must be provided with the application form.

If requested, the applicant should be able to provide evidence of their advisors’ qualifications and a copy of their Curriculum Vitae.

Question 8

Indicate your experience in exploration or mining activities or both.

Attach details or supplementary documents as necessary to provide information. This information might be important if DEDJTR is required to determine the merits of a competing application.

Question 9

The matters to be considered by the Minister in determining whether a person is fit and proper are outlined in the overview section of the application kit.

In considering these matters the Minister must take account of the circumstances that led to the action, the nature of the offence, the penalty imposed and when the action was taken or the offence committed.

The fit and proper requirements extend to associates of licence applicants. An associate is defined as a director, partner, trustee, executive officer, secretary or any other officer or person associated or connected with the ownership, administration or management of the applicant’s business.

In determining whether a person is fit and proper, the Minister is not limited to consideration of the matters above.

Questions 10 & 11

It is a requirement of section 15(1BA) of the MRSDA that you must indicate the minerals you are seeking and type of targets you are proposing to explore. This information is for DEDJTR exploration industry statistics and also influences the amount of annual expenditure required in the licence conditions.

The application must include information about your work program for each year of the licence. A work program is a detailed outline of the work proposed and should address the points listed on the application form. The program of work submitted with the licence application describing the work that will be undertaken must be completed. The program of work may only be varied with the agreement of the Minister.

Note: A work program that is for mining or for further defining a known resource is not acceptable for an exploration licence application. Further, a work program that is solely for research and development and does not include a field program is unlikely to be acceptable for an exploration licence application.

Question 12

Indicate your preferred annual reporting date from the options on the form (31 March, 30 June, 30 September or 31 December). The reporting date will be specified on the licence document.

Once a licence is granted, the annual Activity and Expenditure Return and the annual Technical Report, must be submitted within 28 days after the specified reporting date (Regulations 35 & 36). Failure to submit the annual Activity and Expenditure Return and Annual Technical Report by the due date may result in infringement notices being issued.

Question 13

Nominate the period for which the licence is required. Base this on the size of the exploration licence, the exploration program rate and the time required to obtain all necessary consents.

The maximum term for an exploration licence is five years with up to two renewals possible, for a period of five years or a lesser period as determined by the Minister. The second renewal may only be granted where there are exceptional circumstances and where the Minister is satisfied that there is a likelihood of the licensee identifying minerals in the land covered by the licence during the period of the renewal.

Question 14

Calculate the appropriate fee. The application must be accompanied by the correct fee or it will not be accepted.

Prior to 1 January 2015, exploration licence application fees were determined according to licence size. However, since 1 January 2015 flat application fees have applied for all licence types. The correct application fee must be submitted with the licence application. Fees and charges are varied from time to time, so it is important to refer to the current version of Schedule 28 of the MRSDMIR at the time of application.

A list of the current fees is outlined on the Energy and Earth Resources website at Fees and Charges

Advice is available upon request from the department's offices including the Earth Resources Information Centre (see first page of this booklet for contact details). If paying by cheque, make cheques payable to "Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources".

Attachments

When submitting the application, you must attach:

  • A map showing the area covered by the application; and
  • The application fee; and
  • The proposed work program/plan; and
  • Evidence of financial capacity.

Depending on your answers to the questions, you may also need to attach the following:

  • A list of directors and company secretary of the company, including date of birth details;
  • A copy of the certificate of registration of the company or certificate of registration on change of name;
  • Signed authorisation from the applicant for an agent to act on their behalf;
  • A statement by non-employee advisors of their agreement to act as advisors for this application; and/or
  • Other attachments such as audited reports to the Australian Stock Exchange or other evidence of financial capacity to fund the proposed expenditure.

Indicate in the place provided on the application whether the application is accompanied by each attachment.

The application is invalid and will not be accepted if these items are not supplied where they are required.

Applicant’s Declaration

Before you sign the Declaration, ensure that:

  • You have answered every question;
  • All the information you have given is true and correct to the best of your knowledge;
  • You have attached all the required supporting documentation; and
  • You have attached payment for the appropriate fee.

All applications must be signed. If the application is in joint names, then all parties or their authorised representative(s) must sign the application form.

If one or more of the applicants is a Company, applications made by a Company must be signed by a Company Director or Company Secretary, or alternatively by a person who can provide written evidence that they are authorised to act on behalf of the Company with respect to that application.

Each signature should have the name and position of the person in the Company (if applicable) clearly printed. Priority is allocated according to the day the application is received by the Information Centre, Melbourne (see first page of this booklet).

Other Sources of Information

There are several sources of information which will be useful to licensees throughout the life of their licence. All are available through the Earth Resources Information Centre.

The MRSDA and the MRSDMIR are essential reference documents for all licensees and are available on the Energy and Earth Resources website, see Earth Resources/Minerals/Licensing and Approvals/Guidelines and Codes of Practice.

Earth Resources Regulation has released a series of booklets providing useful information about different aspects of holding a licence under the MRSDA.

These include:

  • Exploration Licence Guidelines
  • Informed Verbal Consent for Low Impact Exploration on Private Land
  • Exploration and Rehabilitation of Mineral Exploration Sites
  • Abandonment of Mineral Drillholes
  • Rehabilitation and Environmental Aspects of Mining and Extractive work plans
  • Standard Work Plan guidelines
  • Area Work Plan guidelines
  • Code of Practice for Mineral Exploration
  • Why Licence Compliance Matters
  • Community Engagement Guidelines for Mining and Mineral Exploration
  • Guidance Notes for Aboriginal Heritage Act/Heritage Act
  • Mineral Exploration and Mining- Land Owners’ Questions Answered
  • Mineral Tenements and the Native Title Act 1993
  • Native Vegetation Management guide for Earth Resource Industries
  • Environmental Review Committee Guidelines
  • Exploration Licence Application Kit
  • Mining Licences Application Kit
  • Retention Licence Application Kit
  • Prospecting Licence Application Kit
  • Guidelines for preparing Environment Effects Statements for Mining Projects.

If you have any comments regarding this Application Kit or the accompanying Application Form, please forward them to the:

Earth Resources Information Centre
Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources
GPO Box 2392 Melbourne,
Victoria 3001 Australia

Phone: 1300 366 356
Email mbc.info@ecodev.vic.gov.au