Prospecting licence application kit
This kit is designed to assist in the completion of the Prospecting licence application form.
The application requirements are outlined in section 15 of the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990 (MRSDA) and Schedule 4 of the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) (Mineral Industries) Regulations 2013 (MRSDMIR).
How to use this kit
This kit will assist you in applying for a prospecting licence which can be done via the RRAM Portal. If for any reason access cannot access RRAM, applications can be submitted using a copy of the latest version of the Prospecting licence application form (WORD - 113.2 KB) which sets out the requirements of Schedule 4 of the MRSDMIR.
Answer each question, following the instructions on this page.
When you have finished, make sure you have answered every question correctly.
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.
If you are not using the RRAM Business Portal, sign the application, include all attachments, and submit to:
Earth Resources Information Centre
Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions
Level 15, 1 Spring Street,
(GPO Box 4509
Melbourne VIC 3001)
Business hours are Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 4.30pm.
Note that the application date, for the purposes of the MRSDA, is the date that the Earth Resources Information Centre receives the complete application.
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, the department may request clarification on details however there is no ability to add further details to the application.
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.
If you have any queries, please contact the:
Earth Resources Information Centre
P: 1300 366 356
Characteristics of the prospecting licence
The prospecting licence is designed for small scale mining and exploration activities.
It has several special characteristics, namely that a prospecting licence:
- entitles the holder to carry out either prospecting, exploration or mining (including activities incidental to that mining),
- can only be granted for a term of up to 7 years,
- is limited to an area not exceeding 5 hectares,
- cannot be renewed, and
- unlike a mining licence, does not require the identification of a mineral resource as a pre-condition for licence grant.
The application process
Only valid applications will be accepted. Acceptance of an application takes place at the Earth Resources Information Centre, Melbourne.
To be considered valid, a prospecting licence application must contain all the information listed in Schedule 4 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.
A prospecting licence application can be made over land within an existing exploration licence (EL) or retention licence (RL) or EL or RL application if;
- the applicant is also the holder of or applicant for an EL or RL; or
- the written consent of the EL or RL holder/applicant accompanies the application; or
- an application for section 25A exploration licence holder consent waiver, if the EL has been registered for more than two years and consent is unable to be obtained.
Note that a prospecting licence application is ineffective and must not be accepted where it is over land that abuts land covered by an adjoining prospecting licence and:
- that application has been made within 2 years after the registration of the adjoining prospecting licence; or
- the land to be covered by that application and land covered by other prospecting licences will form a contiguous area of land that exceeds 20 hectares.
A prospecting licence application may be required to also include a survey of the boundaries of the land proposed to be covered by the licence in accordance with section 15(1BH) and Division 3A of the MRSDA.
The full requirements are set out in sections 26AR to 26AV of the MRSDA and Regulation 28(2) and Schedule 3 of the MRSDMIR.
After your prospecting licence application is accepted by the department, 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.
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.
The department may also refer the application to other agencies for comment and advice of any land and heritage protection issues.
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 to be 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.
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 the department; 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 the department) 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.
If the application area includes Crown land (other than Crown land where native title has been extinguished), the licence may be subject to native title requirements and the department cannot grant the licence until you have met the 'future act' provisions of the Commonwealth Native Title Act 1993 (NTA) or 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 to justice.vic.gov.au).
You may choose from the following options (where applicable and if required):
- 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
- Retain the Crown land and comply with the Right to Negotiate provisions of the NTA; or
- Retain the Crown land and reach an Indigenous Land Use Agreement under the NTA; or
- 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 the department's satisfaction that native title has been extinguished on other pieces of Crown land.
Please note, for applications subject to the Dja Dja Wurrung Recognition and Settlement Agreement (RSA) area, as unmade road reserves within this area are subject to the Dja Dja Wurrung Land Use Activity agreement (LUAA), the excision on Crown land subject to native title will include unmade road reserves. Constructed roads and their reserves are not subject to the LUAA.
If you choose options 2 or 3 and then demonstrate to the department'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.
How to answer the prospecting licence application questions
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 (including their respective dates of birth) and a certificate of registration of company.
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.
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 the department.
- Indicate if the agent is to be the contact point for all enquiries regarding the application.
- 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: 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.
- Quote the name(s) of the 1:25,000 Mapsheet(s) over which the application area extends. These maps can be obtained from the Earth Resources Information Centre.
Determine if the land covered by the application is Crown land, or private land, or a mixture of both. Initial advice on the land status can be obtained by reference to the department's 'GeoVic' computer system which can be inspected at the department's offices throughout Victoria. Details on the owners of private land are available from the Melbourne Land Titles Office.
Attach a map, using a 1:25,000 Mapsheet with MGA coordinates as a base, clearly showing:
- the exact location of the application area;
- the length of each boundary AND its magnetic bearing;
- boundaries of Crown land, with Parishes and Crown Allotment Numbers;
- boundaries of private land and owners/occupiers names;
- if your application area covers agricultural land which you do not own, you must show the extent of this land (see 5 below).
As well as showing the application area on the map, you should describe the application area in words. For instance 'south side of area coincides with North boundary of Crown Allotment 53C'; or 'application area abuts mining licence 9999'; or 'West boundary is defined by edge of road reserve'.
This will assist in the accurate recording of your application area and ensure that you are given ranking (and in time granted a licence) over the correct land.
If you are intending to apply over private land but you are unsure about the exact location of nearby Crown land, you may wish as a precaution to state in your description that all Crown land is excised from the application area. (If there is any Crown land in the application area the licence cannot be granted until Native Title obligations have been met.)
- Calculate the area covered by the application, in hectares, and enter it in the application. The area must not exceed 5 hectares.
- Indicate whether the application area includes privately-owned agricultural land which you do not own.
Ensure that the attached map clearly identifies the extent of any agricultural land.
'agricultural land' means private land that is used primarily for -
- cultivation for the purpose of selling the produce of the cultivation; or
- keeping animals or poultry for the purpose of selling them or produce derived from them; or
- keeping bees for the purpose of selling their honey; or
- commercial fishing; or
- the cultivation or propagation for sale of plants.
Enter the names and addresses of the owners and occupiers of private land covered by your application. If the land is owned by one party, but occupied by another, you must supply the names and addresses of both. Ensure that you have marked these names on the Map (Question 3).
Indicate whether this person is an owner or an occupier. Please attach a list if the space provided on the form is insufficient.
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.
Read more about the processing of minerals tenements under the Native Title Act 1993. The information 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.
Options 2 and 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.
If the application area lies within either a granted or applied for exploration licence or retention licence held by another party, indicate this in the application. You must obtain written consent from the licence holder or applicant for you to be granted a prospecting licence within the licence.
You will need to attach the exploration licence or retention licence consent to the application. If the exploration licence has been registered for more than two years and the exploration licence holder's consent cannot be obtained, you will need to attach a section 25A exploration licence holder consent waiver application (refer back of application form).
Nominate the period for which the licence is required. Base this on the exploration and/or mining proposed, and the time required to obtain all necessary consents.
Prospecting licences may be granted for a term not exceeding seven years and cannot be renewed.
It is a requirement of section 15(1BA) of the MRSDA that you must nominate the minerals proposed to be explored for and/or mined as this will affect your expenditure requirement (see Question 9).
Certain non-metallic or industrial minerals, such as mineral sands, attract a lower expenditure requirement than metallic minerals such as gold.
Where no specific minerals are nominated for this item, then the metallic mineral expenditure guidelines (which are the highest) will apply.
Estimate your annual expenditure for year one and year two and for the requested term of the prospecting licence.
Your licence will require certain minimum expenditure. In cases where there are no competing applications, expenditure requirement will be set according to the department's guidelines (see below) irrespective of the expenditure nominated in the application.
Mining for metallic minerals (e.g. gold, silver, copper, zinc, antimony)
5 Ha or less is $15,000 per year
Mining for non-metallic minerals (e.g. kaolin, diatomite, mineral sands)
5 Ha or less is $5,000 per year
Where the area is subject to a number of competing applicants (MRSDA section 23) the nominated expenditure will be considered as one factor in determining the successful applicant. In this case, your proposed expenditure (if higher than the department's rate) will be adopted as the licence expenditure requirement.
Note: For prospecting licences mining gypsum there is no minimum expenditure requirement.
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:
Company (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.
Individuals or companies (without an audited financial statement):
- 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 and Equipment (owned by the applicant), and to be used for the sole purpose of work 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. The department reserves the right to seek from the applicant a copy of an updated bank statement at any time during the life of the licence.
The department 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. If so, it will be recommended that the licence not be granted.
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 mining would include any related salaries and labour costs for that mining over the relevant period.
Claims for own labour expenditure must be substantiated by records of hours worked, rates of pay and qualifications and experience.
Provide details of the field of expertise of person(s) undertaking the exploration and mining program, including the applicant's expertise and any 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 and 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 advisor qualifications and a copy of their Curriculum Vitae.
Indicate your experience in exploration and mining activities.
Attach details or supplementary documents as necessary to provide information. This information might be important if the department is required to determine the merits of a competing application.
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.
The application must be accompanied by, or include information about, the proposed work program.
A work program is a general outline of the work proposed. It should describe the type of exploration and/or mining activities to be undertaken on the licence and must include a sketch map showing the location of the proposed works in relation to the boundaries of the application area.
Examples of a work program for a prospecting licence are given in appendix 1.
The department may seek clarification of the work program where there are competing applications.
Calculate the appropriate fee. The application must be accompanied by the correct fee or it will not be accepted.
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. See our current fees and charges.
Advice is available upon request from the department's offices including the Earth Resources Information Centre. If paying by cheque, make cheques payable to "Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions".
If required, attach a survey of the land proposed to be covered by the licence. The full requirements are set out in sections 26AR to 26AV of the MRSDA and Regulation 28(1) and Schedule 4 of the MRSDMIR.
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 of the company including date of birth details;
- A copy of the certificate of registration of the company;
- Signed authorisation from the applicant for an agent to act on their behalf;
- An application for section 25A exploration licence holder consent waiver;
- 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.
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. Ranking is given according to the day the application is received by the Earth Resources Information Centre, Melbourne.
After grant process
On grant, the department will send you the registered licence document and information on the next steps required before you can start preparing to undertake work.
Following grant of your prospecting licence you may be able to start some exploration (or prospecting) work immediately, without the need for further notifications, approvals or consents.
Other exploration work will require further notifications, consents and approvals, which may include approval of a work plan, before work can commence.
For further information on entitlements and requirements for undertaking exploration on a prospecting licence refer to:
A range of notifications, approvals or consents will be required before work can commence. Requirements include:
- an approved work plan (if required)
- lodgement of a rehabilitation bond
- public liability insurance
- notification of the Chief Inspector and land owners and occupiers
- for private land, a land owner and occupier consent or a compensation agreement, and
- other consents and authorities under the MRSDA or other legislation, including planning approval.
Note: Unless the Minister declares otherwise in writing, an approved work plan is not required to commence mining work on a prospecting licence, provided the work does not involve underground operations, blasting, clearing of native vegetation or the use of chemical treatments.
Where an approved work plan is not required, work must be undertaken in accordance with the Code of practice for low risk mines.
For further information on requirements for undertaking mining on a prospecting licence refer to:
- Statement of economic significance for mining or prospecting licence on agricultural land
- Notice of intention to commence mining work on a mining licence or a prospecting licence
- Code of practice for low risk mines
- Rehabilitation plans and other environmental aspects work plans
- Community engagement guidelines for mining and mineral exploration
You must also comply with the conditions of your licence and report on your mining (or exploration) activities annually. A condition of the licence is that you must spend a specified minimum annual amount on work on the licence.
Once granted, the annual Activity and Expenditure Return must be submitted within 28 days of the reporting date of 30 June in each year. Failure to submit the annual activity and expenditure return by the due date may result in an infringement notice being issued.
The holder of a prospecting 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.
Royalty is payable for all minerals except gold and is payable on 30 June each year.
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 – see Guidelines and codes of practice.
We have a number of guidelines and codes of practice about different aspects of holding a licence under the MRSDA.
- Prospecting licence guidelines
- Exploration and rehabilitation of mineral exploration sites
- Abandonment of mineral drillholes
- Rehabilitation plans and other environmental aspects work plans
- Code of practice for mineral exploration
- A guide to tenement compliance
- Community engagement guidelines for mining and mineral exploration
- Mineral tenements and the Native Title Act 1993
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 Jobs, Precincts and Regions
Level 15, 1 Spring St
Melbourne VIC 3000
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 9.00am – 4.30pm
(GPO Box 4509, MELBOURNE VIC 3001 Australia)
P: 1300 366 356
Page last updated: 17 Jun 2022