New Mining Laws

From 27 September 2016, the Queensland Government has amended the Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Act 2014 (MERCP Act) and updated the Land Access Code to reflect the changes in legislation.

The amendments to the MERCP Act and the new Land Access Code dated September 2016:

  • contains mandatory conditions for mining / gas companies when accessing and conducting activities on land, including but not limited to:
    • concisely identifying the mining / gas companies obligations in relation to Notice of Entry requirements prior to accessing the Land for Preliminary Activities;
    • creation of a new obligation enforced on mining / gas companies to provide an Entry Report after access and activities on the Land has been completed; and
    • identifying the level of detail that must and should be included when negotiating a Conduct and Compensation Agreement (CCA) for Advanced Activities on the Land.
  • creates a protection zone around key agricultural assets by allowing landholders to say no to resource activities within fifty (50) metres of infrastructure such as principal stockyards, bores and dams;
  • seeks to protect the right of farmers, landholders and local communities to be informed of proposed mining / gas projects through local newspaper ads and to have the ability to lodge an objection against a proposed development.

Whilst some of the amendments made by the Queensland Government seek to address practical concerns faced by landholders, Emanate also urge landholders to be wary of other changes.

The Queensland Government has allowed landholders to elect to opt-out of negotiating a CCA. Landholders need to be aware that a landholder cannot be forced to enter into an Opt-out agreement with a mining / gas company. An Opt-out Agreement must also be accompanied by a special information form, be made in the prescribed form, subject to a ten (10) day cooling off period and do not negate a mining / gas company’s liability to compensate a landholder.

While the Queensland Government says this change is intended to ‘streamline the existing negotiation process’, Emanate strongly urges landholders consider entering into a CCA rather an Opt-out Agreement. A CCA ensures a landholder is adequately protected and provides certainty to the parties’ obligations and rights on the Land. It is important landholders be in a position to provide its consent based on full knowledge of the mining / gas company’s proposed work program and activities on the Land.

The new laws also require that Opt-out Agreements and CCAs be noted on title (similar to an easement on property title) and broaden the powers of the Land Court in circumstances when a CCA cannot be negotiated.

Access to private land by a mining / gas company requires experienced consideration, negotiation and balance of rights and interests of landholders and the mining / gas company. Should any landholders wish to discuss the new mining laws, Emanate is available to assist at your convenience.

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