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Community involvement in mining and petroleum lease approvals

Environmental authorities for mining projects

A mining lease cannot be granted, and therefore a mining project cannot go ahead, unless the resource company has a valid environmental authority for the project.

The processes for environmental authority and mining lease approvals are connected – for example, the notification and objection processes for mining leases and environmental authorities are aligned.

An environmental authority (EA) puts conditions on the resource company to help reduce or avoid any potential environmental impacts of the proposed project.

There are three types of EA that may be issued for a mining lease:

  • standard
  • variation
  • site-specific.

The type of EA a project requires depends whether the project fits within the standard EA eligibility criteria and standard conditions for the resource authority type. If it does, the project can proceed using a standard EA.

If the project fits the eligibility criteria, but the standard conditions need to be varied, the resource company will complete a variation EA.

If the eligibility criteria and standard conditions do not fit a project, the resource company will complete a site-specific EA application. In these circumstances the resource company is required to provide the Department of Environment and Science with detailed information about the proposed activities and their environmental impacts.

Community participation in EA process

Find out about opportunities for community participation (PDF, 213KB) on projects that require a mining lease under the Mineral Resources Act 1989 and a site-specific environmental authority applied for under the Environmental Protection Act 1994.

Public notification

Resource companies are required to publicly notify their EA application, unless:

  1. an EIS process under the State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971 or the Environmental Protection Act 1994 has been completed for the relevant activities
  2. the environmental risks of the activities have not changed since they were assessed in the EIS
  3. the way the activities will be carried out has changed, and the change is unlikely to attract a submission.

The EA application will be published in a locally circulating newspaper, along with notification of the application for the mining lease. The application is also made available on the mining lease applications page.

Resource companies must also publish site-specific EA applications on a website.

Opportunity to make a submission

The community have the opportunity to make a submission about the project’s EA application. The submissions period must end at the same time as objections close on the mining lease. This must be at least 20 business days after the mining lease application was notified.

The chief executive will consider the submissions and decide whether or not the EA should be issued, issued with conditions or refused.

Submissions must be properly made. This means the submission must:

  • be written or electronically submitted
  • state the name of the submitter
  • be addressed to the chief executive
  • be received before the close of the submission period
  • state the grounds of submission and the facts and circumstances relief to support the grounds.

It is important to note that where a mining project’s EIS has been completed, the project’s environmental risks have not changed, and, if any there are any changes to the way the activities will be carried out, those changes are unlikely to attract a submission, there is no ability to make a submission on the environmental authority. This is because submissions have already been taken regarding the project in the EIS process, and those submissions give standing to object to an EA for a mining lease, or appeal the approval of an EA for a petroleum lease in the Land Court.

Objection to environmental authority

If a person makes a properly made submission on the EA application or EIS, they may later object to the draft EA for a mining lease. Submitters are notified of their right to object to the draft EA when the Department of Environment and Science provides them with written notice of, and the reasons for, the decision to approve the project’s environmental authority.

Objections on the EA are heard in the Land Court, and at the same time as any objections to the mining lease.

After hearing the objections, the Land Court will make a recommendation to the chief executive about whether the EA application should be approved, approved subject to certain conditions, or refused. If the Land Court decides the EA should be approved subject to conditions, those conditions cannot be inconsistent with any conditions recommended in a State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971 EIS report.

More information

Mining lease

When a resource company plans to begin production as part of a mining project, they must first have been granted a mining lease. Before a mining lease can be granted, the resource company must have a valid EA.

Note that typically before a resource company applies for a mining lease, they will have explored the area using an exploration resource authority (such as an exploration permit or mineral development licence).

Notification of mining lease application

Mining lease applications are publicly notified in a newspaper circulating in the local area at the same time as the public notification of the draft EA. Affected persons (including the land’s owners) are given a copy of the mining lease application and notice by the resource company.

Objection to mining lease application

Any member of the community has the right to make an objection to a mining lease application (that may later be heard in the Land Court) about a proposed mining lease before it is granted.

The objections period begins when the mining lease is publicly notified and must last for at least 20 business days.

Objections are heard at the same time as any objections made about the issue of an EA for the project. Members of the community may lodge an objection to the grant of a mining lease on broad grounds.

After hearing objections, the Land Court makes a recommendation about whether the mining lease should be granted, granted with conditions or rejected. The Land Court considers a number of factors before making the recommendation, including:

  • the resource company’s financial and technical capability to carry out the project
  • whether the activities to be carried out under the mining lease will conform with sound land use management
  • the past performance of the resource company
  • whether the public right and interest will be prejudiced by the grant of the mining lease
  • whether the proposed mining project is an appropriate land use (taking into consideration the current and prospective uses of the land).

Related information

In this guide:

  1. Environmental impact statements
  2. EIS under the Environmental Protection Act 1994
  3. EIS under the State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971
  4. Environmental authorities for mining projects
  5. Environmental authorities for petroleum projects

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