Why is the Government consulting again if they are already proposing changes to the legislation?
The consultation paper, Legislative enhancements to mining claims, and the draft legislation, outline proposed changes to the legislation which we are now seeking feedback on. The proposals in the consultation paper were informed by feedback received earlier this year on the discussion paper, An enhanced regulatory framework for mining claims.
The proposed changes to legislation are not yet government policy. This is your opportunity to provide feedback prior to legislation being finalised. We are aware of the concerns being raised about some of the proposals and we encourage you to provide written feedback via the online form, email or post. This will assist us in finalising legislation before it is introduced to Parliament.
Further information about how to have your say can be found here.
Does the draft legislation include different or additional proposals to the consultation paper?
No. The draft legislation reflects the proposed changes included in the consultation paper.
The consultation paper provides a clear overview of the rationale and intent of the proposed amendments, while the draft legislation shows how the proposals would appear in the Mineral Resource Act 1989 or Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Act 2014 if passed by Parliament.
Reading the consultation paper on its own, or alongside the draft legislation, may be the simplest way to understand the proposed changes.
If you have specific feedback on the draft legislation (for example section 50 entitlements under mining claim), please refer to the relevant clause or section number(s) in your submission.
What do the changes to the term of the mining claim mean for existing mining claim holders?
The proposed new terms for a mining claim will not apply to existing mining claims unless the mining claim is transferred. This means an existing mining claim holder can continue to apply to renew their mining claim without any limit. However, if a transfer application is made and approved, the new holder will only be able to apply to renew the claim two times.
The Minister will have discretion to renew the claim for a third and final time in certain circumstances for example where gems are still being produced.
What will the proposed changes to term of the mining claim achieve?
Limiting the number of times a mining claim can be renewed to two is intended to provide certainty to landholders and mining claim holders about how long mining activities will occur.
The proposed term limits will also help address concerns of mining claim holders erecting and living in permanent structures without undertaking mining activities.
What changes will apply to existing mining claim holders if the legislation is passed?
Existing mining claim holders will need to keep records of their activity (documents). At renewal they will need to meet the new application requirements, including providing a new financial and technical capability statement demonstrating that the holder can undertake the activities proposed in their work program.
Guidance material will be developed to support mining claim holders in understanding the new requirements if the legislation is passed by Parliament. The proposed new term limits will not apply to existing mining claims.
Why is the Government proposing structures be removed from mining claims?
The Mineral Resources Act 1989 currently outlines the types of structures that the holder of a mining claim may erect and maintain on their claim, including a ‘structure not being of a permanent nature’.
The proposed changes to the legislation will clarify the types of structures and temporary accommodation that are permitted on claims going forward. This includes updating references and definitions and clarifying that all structures, equipment and plant are to be removed prior to the expiration or surrender of a mining claim.
For existing mining claims with structures, including ‘permanent’ structures, the paper outlines how they will transition into the new framework. In most cases, the permanent structure will be able to be retained, unless the mining claim is transferred.
If I get a mining claim after the proposed changes take effect, will I be able to live on my claim?
Yes. The proposed changes will allow mining claim holders to have temporary accommodation to reside in while they carry out mining activities. However, mining claim holders are not permitted to erect permanent dwellings or structures.
Proposed changes will require mining claim holders to submit a work program to the department that includes details about the structures required to undertake the mining activities proposed for the mining claim. The mining claim holder will only be permitted to have structures on the claim that are included in the work program if they have provided security to the department for the structures and they are authorised on the mining claim notice.
Mining claim holders will have the ability to update their work programs at renewal, or if significant changes to activities are proposed during the term of the claim. This would include if a new structure for the claim is proposed.
What happens if I still have mineral to mine but my mining claim term is running out?
For existing mining claims, the claim can be renewed indefinitely unless the tenure expires or is transferred. This means that the existing holder can renew the claim for as long as is required to exhaust the mineral and carry out remediation activities.
For new mining claims or existing mining claims that expire or are transferred after commencement, if the mining claim holder can demonstrate there is a substantial amount of mineral remaining on the claim and additional time is required to produce the mineral and remediate the claim, a maximum of two renewals may be permitted. The Minister will have discretion to renew the claim for a third and final time.
Is Government trying to phase out hand mining claims in favour of big mining operations?
No. The proposed legislative changes are intended to create a more effective system for regulating and administering mining claims. No changes are proposed in relation to where hand-mining and machinery mining can currently occur.
Are the proposed changes going to apply to other mining tenures, such as mining leases?
No. The proposed legislative changes relate to mining claims only. The proposed inclusion of conduct and in-kind compensation in the compensation agreement and the proposed introduction of penalty infringement notices will only apply to mining claims.