Review of the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990: Stage 1
Review of the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990: Stage 1 has been completed.
The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is committed to maintaining an efficient and modern regulatory framework for the earth resources sector and increasing activity in the minerals industry to benefit all Victorians. As a result, a major review of the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990 (MRSDA) is currently being undertaken.
This wholesale review of the Act is being undertaken in two phases, with the first phase focused on the allocation of rights through the licensing process as well as a number of other reforms. While the second phase of the review will look at the authorisation of work and government approvals processes.
The first phase has culminated in the passage of the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 2010, consequential amendments to the Mineral Resources Development Regulations 2002 and the development of Ministerial Guidelines and Departmental Guidelines. In parallel, the second phase of the review is also being progressed through consultation with government and industry.
Mineral Resources Amendment (Sustainable Development) Act 2010
The Mineral Resources Amendment (Sustainable Development) Act 2010 introduces a number of changes focused on aligning government and industry processes and will provide increased security of tenure for licence holders. Primarily the amending Act will improve the structure and efficiency of the licensing system through the introduction of two new licenses - the Retention Licence and the Prospecting Licence. Other reforms in the amending Act include:
- Mineral identification requirements for retention and mining licences
- Changes to relinquishment and renewal arrangements for exploration licences
- Changes to the ‘fit and proper person’ provisions to specify matters to be considered in determining whether a person is ‘fit and proper’ and extends the ‘fit and proper’ test to associates of licensees/applicants
- Statutory endorsement of work plans to reduce duplication, delays and regulatory burden
- Extension of the terms of Miner’s Rights and Tourist Fossicking Authorities to up ten years
- Clarification of compensation provisions, in particular relating to “offsite” compensation and agreements between landowners and licensees
- Clarification of consent provisions in relation to low impact exploration on private land, to allow for informed verbal consent as an alternative to written consent
The amending Act and the consolidated Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990 (as amended) are available on the Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents website, www.legislation.vic.gov.au. Links to the legislation are available on the DPI website, www.dpi.vic.gov.au.
Mineral Resources Development Amendment Regulations 2011
The Mineral Resources Development Amendment Regulations 2011 (the Amendment Regulations), commenced on 1 February 2012, to coincide with commencement of the amending Act. The one exception is new regulation 10A which commenced on 1 July 2012. Regulation 10A prescribes matters relating to the definition of a ‘gigajoule unit of lignite’ for the purposes of calculating coal royalties. Commencement of regulation 10A is consistent with the start of the royalty payment period.
The objects of the Amendment Regulations are to –
- prescribe various procedures, details, fees, forms, information required in documents and other matters authorised by the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990 in relation to retention and prospecting licences;
- define competent person for the purposes of the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990;
- prescribe, for the purposes of lignite royalty calculations, the timing and manner of measurement for calculation of a gigajoule unit of lignite;
- set out requirements relating to marking out and survey for retention and prospecting licences;
- prescribe requirements that must be provided in exploration and mining licence applications to ensure the applicant is a fit and proper person;
- prescribe an application fee for a 10 year tourist fossicking authority;
- remove, where necessary, references to mining licences covering an area of more than 5 hectares;
- provide transitional arrangements for certain mining licences covering an area of less than 5 hectares.
The Amendment Regulations and the consolidated Mineral Resources Development Regulations 2002 (as amended) are available on the Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents website, www.legislation.vic.gov.au.
Ministerial Guidelines for Description of a Mineral Resource
Section 120A of the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990 (the Act) allows the Minister to issue guidelines in relation to any of the objects or purposes of the Act or Regulations. Further, new section 15(1BB) of the Act requires the applicant for a retention licence or mining licence (not including an ‘infrastructure mining licence’) to describe the mineral resource in accordance with guidelines issued by the Minister.
Departmental MRSDA Guidelines
To assist applicants and licence holders to understand new requirements under the amended Act and how these are proposed to be implemented, the department has produced guidelines relating to each of the licence types:
- Exploration Licences Guidelines
- Prospecting Licences Guidelines
- Mining Licences Guidelines
- Retention Licences Guidelines
These guidelines provide guidance on matters including applications, work programs, maintenance and renewal of licences, and reporting.
For information on specific requirements for making a licence application under the MRSDA, applicants should refer to: Tenement Forms and Guides.
Guidance material has also been produced to provide an overview of some of the key legislative changes to the licensing arrangements under the Act, and to outline options available to existing licensees.
Informed verbal consent for low impact exploration
The amending Act introduces ‘informed verbal consent’ for low impact exploration. This allows a landholder or occupier to choose to give their informed verbal consent, in place of written consent or a compensation agreement, for ‘low impact exploration’ work (as defined in the Act).
Further information about informed verbal consent, including an information sheet that may be provided to the relevant landholder or occupier is available.
Read more about Informed Verbal Consent for Low Impact Exploration.
A series of fact sheets have been developed to assist industry and the community to understand the key legislative changes under the Amending Act. Copies of the fact sheets are available below:
- Overview Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Amendment Act 2010
- New Exploration and Mining Licences
- Prospecting Licences
- Retention Licences
- Consent for Low Impact Exploration
- Fit and Proper Person Provisions
- Transitional Arrangements for existing exploration and mining licences
To commence the consultation process, an issues paper was developed by DPI and released for public comment in April 2009. Formal submissions around the issues paper were received and regional workshops were undertaken that attracted over 180 people. A summary of the discussions and contributions and individual submissions in response to the Issues Paper were released for public review.
Responses to the issues paper underpinned the development of Targeted Discussion Papers which were released for public comment and looked in more detail at the key issues in the first phase of the review and, where appropriate, posed some options and possible actions. Further stakeholder workshops were then held around the Targeted Discussion Papers prior to drafting of the amending Bill. Targeted meetings were also undertaken to resolve issues as they arose during the drafting process.
DPI will continue consultation during the remaking of the sunsetting Mineral Resources Development Regulations 2002. The Regulations have been extended until October 2013 and a Regulatory Impact Statement process will be undertaken in relation to the replacement regulations.
In the second phase of the review DPI will continue to consult with industry, community and government.