Changes to the relinquishment, renewal and administration of resource authorities
From 25 May 2020, amendments to the Mineral Resources Act 1989 and the Petroleum and Gas (Safety and Production) Act 2004 come into effect.
These changes apply to explorations permits (EPs) for minerals and coal and petroleum and gas resource authorities. The changes are summarised below, and will be included in updated operational policies and guidelines.
The legislative changes introduce the new concept of ‘exceptional event’.
These are events that are impossible to control or anticipate, for example natural disasters or financial crises that negatively affects the resources sector.
The department may recognise an exceptional event where the event is:
- widely known
- the holder can provide substantial and compelling evidence that demonstrates that:
- the exceptional event occurred
- the event impacted the holder's ability to meet the statutory requirement
- the event could not be reasonably anticipated, managed or avoided by the holder.
Summary of changes
Exploration permits (EPs) for minerals and coal
The changes applying to exploration permits include:
- Defining ‘exceptional event’ in the Mineral Resources Act
- Capping the term of an EP to 15 years, subject to an extension of the last renewed term of an EP for up to 3 years due to an exceptional event
- Limiting the circumstances in which a variation of conditions of an EP work program can be applied for to 2 circumstances - if the variation is required due to an exceptional event or if an EP is part of an exploration project
- Including a new power for the Minister to impose, vary or remove a condition of an EP as a result of an exceptional event
- Requiring the relinquishment of 50% of the area of an EP at end of year 5 and 50% of the remaining area, if renewed, at the end of year 10
- Including the option for an outcomes-based work program for EPs either upon renewal (if granted as a result of a tender process or for the grant of an EP for minerals) or if stated in the tender document that an outcomes-based work program is required
- Allowing the area of an EP that is subject to an application for an mineral development licence (MDL) or a mining lease (ML) to count toward relinquishment
You can get more information about the change in:
- Changes for exploration permits administered under the Mineral Resources Act 1989 (PDF, 360.3KB)
- Transitional relinquishment requirements for exploration permits (PDF, 269.5KB)
Petroleum and gas authorities
The changes applying to petroleum and gas authorities include:
- Defining ‘exceptional event’ in the Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act
- Requiring the relinquishment of 50% of the original notional sub-blocks at the end of year 6
- Limiting the circumstances in which a special amendment of an authority to prospect (ATP) can be applied for to 2 circumstances - if the variation is required due to an exceptional event or if the ATP is part of an exploration project
- Including a new power for the Minister to impose, vary or remove a condition of an ATP as a result of an exceptional event
- Removing the maximum area limit of 75 sub-blocks for potential commercial areas (PCAs) and petroleum leases (PLs)
- Allowing the amalgamation of 2 or more petroleum leases (PLs)
You can get more information about the changes in:
- Find out how to renew your resource authority.
- Read about development plans and work programs.
- Read about the COVID-19 assistance package for exploration companies.
Last updated 6 July 2020