Landholders

Landholders' rights

The legislation is in place to require exploration and mining companies to obtain consent from landowners prior to accessing land for all minerals, petroleum and associated pipeline projects in Victoria.

Industry obligations

To carry out exploration for any mineral or petroleum product, including tight, shale or coal seam gas, companies holding exploration and mining licences must:

  • Obtain consent from the landowner to access the land
  • Minimise the impacts on the regular uses of the land
  • Follow public safety and environmental regulations
  • Maintain all equipment and infrastructure in good condition
  • Continue to consult with the local community for the life of the licence.

Where mining is proposed on agricultural land, the licensee must prepare a Statement of Economic Significance to establish whether the mining activity is of greater or lesser value than the agricultural activity. This statement must be made within six months of the granting of the licence (or lodging of a workplan) and a copy must be provided to the landholder.

Land access

A company cannot access private land to carry out any exploration or mining activities without first receiving consent from the landholder or establishing a compensation agreement. If an agreement cannot be reached, either party can take the matter to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) which can determine an amount of compensation, to the landholder. Once compensation has been agreed, the company can access the land.

Compensation and access agreements

Holders of exploration and mining licences are obliged to ensure that their operations have minimal impact on other uses of the land. Compensation is payable for loss or damage to the landholders' interests as a direct, natural and reasonable consequence of the exploration or mining activity. Compensation may be financial or non-financial, such as the provision of tracks or fencing.

The quantity and nature of agreements is a private matter to be settled between the developer and landholder.

Appeals

VCAT acts as an appeals body where agreement cannot be reached regarding compensation. VCAT does not determine the right to access land, only the amount of compensation to be paid to the landholder.

Objections

Anyone can object to the granting of a licence provided the application is new and not a renewal. The objection must be made in writing, state the grounds on which it is made (relevant to legislative provisions) and be sent to Earth Resources Regulation of the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources , within 21 days after the latest date on which the licence application was advertised.

All objections and comments received are considered before a decision is made on whether to grant the licence. As a result, additional conditions may be applied to the licence. These generally relate to technical requirements but can also include matters determined by Earth Resources Regulation in response to community feedback.

Complaints

Concerns that an exploration or mining operation is not meeting its obligation to minimise risk to people, property and the environment, can be addressed to an Earth Resources Regulation mining inspector.  Continual or serious breaches of licence conditions may result in the cancellation of a licence. Other possible enforcement actions include prosecution and infringement notices.