DMIRS is monitoring the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and is reviewing its departmental plan to address continuity of service, including legislation administered by the Resource and Environmental Regulation Group.
This planning includes the approval and assessment regimes, in addition to reviewing planned compliance activities.
Legislation and time critical events
DMIRS has identified time critical events under the Mining Act 1978 (Mining Act) to be the:
- lodgement of applications for exploration licences;
- lodgement of conversion applications for mining leases/general purpose leases for land currently under exploration licence and prospecting licence;
- lodgement of applications for the extension of term/renewal of titles;
- lodgement of compulsory partial surrender of an exploration licence on the anniversary of the sixth year of its grant;
- marking out or lodgement of applications for land that is the subject of third party forfeiture; and
- payment of rent and fines.
These are events that underpin the first-in-time and the security of tenure principles of the Mining Act.
Other time critical events that have built in flexibility of time include the:
- lodgement of applications that are first required to be marked out on the land;
- lodgement of a mining proposal in support of an application for mining lease;
- lodgement of annual reports (Form 5 reports);
- lodgement of applications for exemptions;
- lodgement of reviewed mine closure plans;
- lodgement of rectified provisionally lodged instruments;
- lodgement of royalty returns;
- review of Direction by the Executive Director Resources and Environmental Compliance Division;
- Compliance with Directions; and
- lodgement of objections to applications.
Section 162B of the Mining Act provides the Minister or the Warden the power to extend the time for these events.
Continuity of service priorities
Continuity of service priorities for RER include:
- receiving of applications;
- assessment of applications;
- determination of applications;
- receiving and registering dealings;
- updating the title register and the title spatial data (TENGRAPH); and
- enforcing compliance with statutory conditions.
Except for the issuing of the Miner’s Right, all DMIRS mineral title transactions can be lodged online through the department’s databases. So long as online services are functional, the public can lodge transactions with DMIRS. More than 80 per cent of all Mining Act transactions are currently lodged online.
For the less than 20 per cent of transactions currently lodged over the counter, contingencies are in place to assist individuals to instead lodge transactions using online services.
Customers can to talk through the online lodgement procedure with an officer on (08) 9222 3030 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Resources and Environmental Regulation Group has identified the public sector positions responsible for the ongoing administration of the legislation and has the capability to assign replacement personnel to critical positions if required. The Department has contingencies in place to enable Mining Registrar functions to be delivered remotely, in the unlikely event that a regional office cannot open for business.
Dependencies for the continuity of service include the availability of:
- Wardens to hear contested matters;
- the National Native Title Tribunal to hear contested expedited future act proceedings;
- web services; and
- Australia Post services.
A suspension of proceedings in the Warden’s Court will not prevent parties from having matters dealt with administratively. For example, Minutes of Programming Orders and Consent Orders can be submitted in the usual way. Also, where the parties are amenable, some matters may be determined on the papers.
In the event that there is a need to call a matter on urgently during the suspension period, unless it is imperative that the parties appear in person, audio link or video link facilities will be used.
The department’s mineral title database (Mineral Titles Online) has the functionality for mining tenement holders to identify critical matters such as expiry events, which allows them to take early action and avoid losing the security of tenure.
Mining tenement holders are encouraged to act promptly to ensure mineral titles are secure. It is strongly recommended that tenement holders/applicants use online systems rather than lodging physical documents either over the counter or mailed through the post.
More information about other DMIRS COVID-19 updates can be found here.