Mineral tenements are critical and sometimes complex documents that can influence an entire exploration or mining project. In Australia, the mineral tenement is essential and compulsory for exploration and mining companies whenever they plan to carry out any works involving searching for or extracting minerals.
The purpose of a tenement is to grant the holder the right to explore for or mine minerals (subject to any other required approvals, agreements or consents), while also ensuring the holder adheres to all applicable laws, regulations and public interest matters. To this end, tenements will be granted subject to various conditions relating to matters such as environmental management, native title, cultural heritage, water, access and community consultation.
In most states, tenement applications are submitted to the relevant State Government Department for approval. Depending on the jurisdiction, Governments will allow either online, electronic or physical application submissions. It is important to keep in mind that the application requirements will differ between different states. In Western Australia, for example, the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety oversees all mining titles and mining tenements. In NSW, the Department of Regional NSW manages tenement applications, however certain dealings will be dealt with by the NSW Resources Regulator. Visiting your state’s Department website will help you understand who and where your application should be submitted to. The time taken for a mining tenement application to be granted can vary greatly and is again different in each state.
There are different types of tenements that may be applicable to different types of projects and operations. The type of operation being conducted and required rights will determined the type of tenement needed. Tenements don’t just vary depending on what type of activity are conducting, but they also vary depending on what state you will be conducting your operations within. Different states have different rules and regulations. Broadly speaking, tenements can fall into the following categories:
Exploration including Exploration Licences, Assessment Leases, Prospecting Licences, Retention Licences.
Mining including Mining Leases, Mineral Licences and Extractive Industry Work Authority
Infrastructure including Mining Purposes Leases, Mining Leases for Ancillary Mining Activities, General Purposes Leases and Miscellaneous Licences
Each individual licence or lease comes with its own unique conditions and terms. Some licences and leases may have terms of up to five or more years, whereas other will specify shorter terms. Generally, a program of works will detail the work that is to be undertaken within the term of the license or lease.
A program of works is a document that outlines the work required to be completed on the tenement for the given term and what timeframe the work will adhere to. Most organisations would view the required activities and expenditure set out under a program of works as being mandatory obligations to be carried out in connection with the tenement. A thorough program of works will contain information about tasks, resources, responsibilities, schedules and project goals.
Application fees are often payable for mining tenements and vary considerably between jurisdictions and tenement types.
Before applying for a tenement, you should be aware of factors that could influence whether your tenement is accepted or not and any impediments to exploration over the subject land once the tenement is granted. Objections by the public, environmental conflicts and land use constraints may reduce the likelihood of your tenement or proposed activities being approved. A thorough application strictly compliant with legislative and policy requirements will assist your application in being granted.
As mentioned above, tenement applications must comply with the relevant regulatory framework in order to be successful. To increase the chances of your tenement application being granted, you should work with leading tenement consultants and mining law consultants, like the team at Hetherington. Outsourcing these technical and highly complex legal aspects of mining to a specialised firm can ensure you have outstanding applications and security of tenure.
Our expert team has extensive knowledge in the resources industry, and we frequently assist corporations of all sizes to secure the valid grant of tenements. Engaging with our team to assist with tenement applications will ensure long-term security of tenure of your mining assets and prevent risk of losses if applications are not accepted.
At Hetherington, our experienced professionals can assist throughout the application process, ensuring you are receiving and implementing the most strategic and valuable legal advice.
As well as heightening your chances of application success, a tenement management firm like Hetherington can help you maintain your licences and leases throughout the term of your tenement. Compliance is important to ensure you can keep your leases and licences in good standing.
To get in touch with the Hetherington team, contact us on 02 9967 4844 (Sydney), 08 9228 9977 (Perth), or 07 3236 1768 (Brisbane).