Access to Commonwealth land for mineral exploration and mining activities
The guidance information below is provided to assist applicants seeking access to Commonwealth land for mineral exploration and / or mining activities. The information provided does not constitute legal advice, and persons intending to seek access to Commonwealth land for mineral exploration and / or mining activities should seek their own independent legal advice in relation to their application.
The Lands Acquisition Act 1989 (LAA) governs approval processes for access to Commonwealth land for the purposes of exploration and mining. In particular, Section 124 of the LAA provides for mining on certain land. The Minister for Finance and Deregulation (Finance Minister) may authorise access to Commonwealth land for mineral exploration, and the Governor-General may authorise mining for minerals on Commonwealth land.
The Special Minister of State is currently the relevant decision maker in relation to exploration on Commonwealth land.
Mineral exploration and / or mining activities are typically governed by a ‘deed of access’ between the Commonwealth and the miner.
How to make an application
All applications seeking access to Commonwealth land for mineral exploration and/ or mining should be sent to the address below.
Land Acquisitions, Native Title and Mining
Department of Finance and Deregulation
John Gorton Building
PARKES ACT 2600
The Department of Finance and Deregulation (Finance) provides an application package to prospective applicants by request. The package includes guidance notes on the type and depth of information required, and other technical documents that the Australian Government requires to enable consideration of the application.
The package is provided as a guide only and applicants should provide any other relevant information to ensure that the relevant decision maker can fully understand the nature and extent of the application including any proposed work, and the impact of the proposed work on the land and surrounding environment.
Information about the applicant
- Full name and address. If the applicant is a corporate entity, details about name, address, legal structure, and contact details. Where there is, or may be, foreign involvement with a company seeking access to Commonwealth land, the applicant will be required to provide information about the nature and extent of the present or the proposed foreign ownership and / or control of the company.
- Tangible evidence of financial capacity of applicant to undertake the proposed work
- Certificate of Currency outlining public liability insurance cover that nominates the Commonwealth as an interested party. The policy period must cover the period of access sought.
Information about the project
- Details about the minerals sought.
- Details about the economic viability of the proposed work.
- Description of the land, including details about title(s) to the land and any registered interests.
- Details about technical capacity to undertake the proposed work.
- Contact details for the technical manager of the proposed work.
- Particulars of the work program, including but not limited to rationale for selecting the area, the objectives of the proposed work, proposed site access arrangements and the exploration methods.
- Details about the number and identity of the people who require access.
- Details about the duration of access.
- Details about the equipment and infrastructure to be used.
Information about State or Territory licences and approvals that may be required
- Details about approvals sought and received (for example, exploration licence details).
- Details about approvals or other consents that may be required (for example, OH&S arrangements).
Applicants should note that an authorisation to undertake mineral exploration on Commonwealth land does not carry with it any implication that the Governor-General will subsequently authorise mining activities on the land, whether by the applicant or by any other person or entity.
There are no application fees, and all applications are dealt with in order of receipt.
Contacting State and Territory mining agencies
Information about State and Territory requirements for exploration and mining activities can be obtained from:
New South Wales
New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (Minerals and Petroleum)
Phone: 1300 736 122
Postal: NSW DPI, PO Box 344, Hunter Regional Mail Centre NSW 2310
Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (Mines and Energy)
Phone: (07) 3237 1434
Postal: PO Box 15216, City East QLD 4002
Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources (Resources Tasmania)
Phone: (03) 6233 8377
Postal: PO Box 56, Rosny Park, TAS, 7018
Business Centre Earth Resources Division
Department of Primary Industries
Phone: (03) 9658 4454
Postal: GPO Box 4440, Melbourne VIC 3001
Executive Director, Mineral Titles
Department of Mines and Petroleum
Phone: (08) 9222 3118
Postal: Mineral House, 100 Plain Street, East Perth WA 6004
Department of Resources – Minerals and Energy
Phone: (08) 8999 5511
Postal: GPO Box 3000, Darwin NT 0801
How an application for mineral exploration is considered
The Commonwealth’s land use practice generally favours multiple land use, including exploration and mining activities, wherever this is compatible with the Commonwealth’s use of the land.
Once an application seeking access to Commonwealth land to explore or mine has been received, Finance consults relevant Commonwealth, State and Territory agencies about the application.
Commonwealth agencies consulted include:
- The Attorney-General’s Department: in relation to native title issues;
- Department of Defence: in relation to Defence use of the land;
- Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities: in relation to environmental and heritage issues;
- Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism: in relation to mining policy issues; and
- The Commonwealth Treasury (as required).
Depending on the particular application that is made, Finance may consult other Commonwealth agencies as well as the State or Territory agencies that are responsible for exploration and mining activities in the State or the Territory in which the land is located.
In light of advice provided by these agencies, Finance may also consult the applicant about:
- Additional information that may be required;
- Objections that may have been raised; and
- Possible terms and conditions of access and/or land use that might be required.
It is not possible to give a precise time-frame for decision making, because each application is different and may raise unique issues for consideration. Applicants are encouraged to keep in contact with Finance to monitor progress of their application.
How an application for mining is considered
Applications for approval to mine for minerals on Commonwealth land are dealt with in a similar manner to applications to explore for minerals on Commonwealth land.
However, once Finance has completed its assessment of an application, the application, together with Finance’s recommendation, is submitted to the Governor-General for decision. The Governor-General then decides whether to authorise the grant of a lease or licence to the applicant to mine for minerals on the land.
This officer can also be contacted via fax number (02) 6215 3774.