The principle of the compulsory surrender provisions of section 65 of the Mining Act 1978 is that exploration licence holders will have conducted exploration on the licence to identify areas of interest and, as a consequence, relinquish the balance of the ground held.
The compulsory surrender provisions of Section 65 of the Mining Act 1978 require the following:
- All exploration licences applied for prior to 10 February 2006 can be reduced by 50 per cent at the end of the third year of their term and can be reduced again by a further 50 per cent at the end of the fourth year of their terms.
- All exploration licences applied for on or after 10 February 2006 can be reduced by at least 40 per cent at the end of the sixth year of their term.
Exemption from the requirement to surrender ground at the end of the third and fourth years for pre-10 February 2006 licences is provided for in those cases where holders, for specified reasons, are unable to conduct or complete planned exploration programs. The onus is on holders to provide evidence to support their applications, based on the criteria detailed in Transitional Provision 19 of the Mining Act 1978 (as amended by Mining Amendment Act 2012).
There is no exemption or deferral of the compulsory surrender requirement for exploration licences applied for on or after 10 February 2006.
Applications for exemption requirements
All applications for exemption from the compulsory surrender provisions, of Section 65 of the Mining Act 1978, must relate to the licence that is the subject of the exemption. Applications must be supported by satisfactory documentation in respect to the reasons for seeking the exemption. Where licensees cannot supply the necessary documentation, a statutory declaration in lieu of documentation must be lodged.
Note the following:
- Any licensee seeking exemption from the compulsory surrender requirements should note that the Minister for Mines and Petroleum may grant such exemption either wholly or in part and on such terms and conditions as he thinks fit. Therefore, the Minister’s support will be sought for granting exemption from of the compulsory surrender requirements for less than the statutory requirement where circumstances warrant it. The size of the licence in question can also be a factor in this consideration.
- When an application is not supported a 30 day notice will be issued where the reasons given or information supplied has not proved sufficient support for the application. If no adequate further supporting information is received within this period, the application will be refused.
Prescribed grounds for exemption
The below bullet points indicate an appropriate prescribed ground for which an application for exemption can be granted under Transitional Provision 19 of the Mining Act 1978 (as amended by Mining Amendment Act 2012). An exploration program, or the marking out and application for mining lease or general purpose lease, in respect to the land the subject of the licence, cannot be completed or undertaken by reasons of difficulties or delays:
- occasioned by law
- arising from administrative, political, environmental or other requirements of governmental or other authorities, in the State or elsewhere
- arising from the requirement to conduct Aboriginal heritage surveys on the land
- in obtaining requisite consents or approvals for exploration or for the marking out of a mining lease or general purpose lease in relation to any part of the land
- in gaining access to the relevant land because of unfavourable climatic conditions.
The reason ‘work already carried out under the licence justifies further exploration’ allows for exemption for the purposes of continuing exploration where exploration is at an advance stage and further work is warranted. This reason cannot be considered if no mineral exploration has been carried out on the licence during its term, even if substantial exploration has been carried out within the project as a whole.
A detailed explanation of the Department’s guidelines when assessing these reasons is provided in the document Policy Guidelines – Compulsory Surrender Provisions of Section 65 of the Mining Act 1978