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All exploration and mining activity in New South Wales (NSW) must be conducted in accordance with an authority issued under the Mining Act 1992.

Certain exploration and mining activities also trigger the requirement for additional approvals and other NSW legislation may also apply.

The Mining Act 1992 provides the mechanism for Government to regulate exploration and mining by granting authorities.

The authority gives holders exclusive rights to explore or mine for the mineral group(s) for which the authority is granted.

The Mining Regulation 2016 prescribes at Schedules 1 and 2, what are "minerals" and "groups of minerals" for the purposes of their definition in the Mining Act 1992.

These Schedules are set out below:

Schedule 1 Minerals

agate; antimony; apatite; arsenic; asbestos; barite; bauxite; bentonite (including fuller's earth); beryllium minerals; bismuth; borates; cadmium; caesium; calcite; chalcedony; chert; chlorite; chromite; clay/shale; coal; cobalt; copper; corundum; cryolite; diamond; diatomite; dimension stone; dolomite; emerald; emery; feldspathic materials; fluorite; galena; garnet; geothermal energy; germanium; gold; graphite; gypsum; halite (including solar salt); ilmenite; indium; iron minerals; jade; kaolin; lead; leucoxene; limestone; lithium; magnesite; magnesium salts; manganese; marble; marine aggregate; mercury; mica; mineral pigments; molybdenite; monazite; nephrite; nickel; niobium; oil shale; olivine; opal; ores of silicon; peat; perlite; phosphates; platinum group minerals; platinum; potassium minerals; potassium salts; pyrophyllite; quartz crystal; quartzite; rare earth minerals; reef quartz; rhodonite; rubidium; ruby; rutile; sapphire; scandium and its ores; selenium; serpentine; sillimanite-group minerals; silver; sodium salts; staurolite; strontium minerals; structural clay; sulphur; talc; tantalum; thorium; tin; topaz; tourmaline; tungsten and its ores; turquoise; uranium; vanadium; vermiculite; wollastonite; zeolites; zinc; zircon; zirconia

Schedule 2

Groups of minerals

Group 1 (Metallic minerals)

antimony; arsenic; bismuth; cadmium; caesium; chromite; cobalt; copper; galena; germanium; gold; indium; iron minerals; lead; lithium; manganese; mercury; molybdenite; nickel; niobium; platinum group minerals; platinum; rare earth minerals; rubidium; scandium and its ores; selenium; silver; sulphur; tantalum; tin; tungsten and its ores; vanadium; zinc; zirconia
 

Group 2 (Non-metallic minerals)

apatite; asbestos; barite; bauxite; beryllium minerals; borates; calcite; chert; chlorite; cryolite; diatomite; dimension stone; dolomite; emerald; emery; feldspathic materials; fluorite; garnet; graphite; gypsum; halite (including solar salt); limestone; magnesite; magnesium salts; marble; mica; mineral pigments; olivine; ores of silicon; peat; perlite; phosphates; potassium minerals; potassium salts; pyrophyllite; quartzite; reef quartz; serpentine; sillimanite-group minerals; sodium salts; staurolite; strontium minerals; talc; topaz; vermiculite; wollastonite; zeolites
 

Group 3 (Semi-precious stones)

agate; chalcedony; jade; nephrite; quartz crystal; rhodonite; tourmaline; turquoise 
 

Group 4 (Marine aggregate)

marine aggregate
 

Group 5 (Clay minerals)

bentonite (including fuller's earth); clay/shale; kaolin; structural clay
 

Group 6 (Corundum, diamond, ruby and sapphire)

corundum; diamond; ruby; sapphire
 

Group 7 (Opal)

opal
 

Group 8 (Geothermal energy)

geothermal energy
 

Group 9 (Coal and oil shale)

coal; oil shale
 

Group 10 (Mineral sands)

ilmenite; leucoxene; monazite; rutile; zircon
 

Group 11 (Uranium)

thorium; uranium       

Types of authorities

Exploration licences

An exploration licence gives the holder the exclusive right to explore for the specified mineral group(s) within the exploration licence area, during the term of the licence.

The purpose of exploration is to locate areas where mineral resources may be present, to establish the quality and quantity of those resources and to investigate the viability of extracting the resource.

The granting of an exploration licence does not give any right to mine, nor does it guarantee a mining lease will be granted with the exploration licence area.

Assessment leases

An assessment lease is designed to cater for situations between exploration and mining. The lease allows the holder to maintain an authority over a potential project area, without having to commit to further exploration. The holder can, however, continue exploration to further assess the viability of commercial mining.

The assessment lease may be appropriate where:

  • a mineral resource has been proven and the feasibility of mining established but the project is not currently viable, although it has potential to be developed in the foreseeable future, or
  • there are areas of mineral potential which are natural extensions to existing operations or projects, but it is currently impractical to apply for a mining lease.

Mining leases

A mining lease gives the holder the exclusive right to mine for specified minerals within the mining lease area during the term of the lease.

In addition to allowing mining, a mining lease permits prospecting operations and Ancillary Mining Activities (AMA) to be conducted in association with mining operations. A mining lease for mining purposes only may also be applied for.

A mining lease area may also include any associated infrastructure and must be consistent with the development consent area.

Ancillary Mining Activities (AMAs)

Titleholders seeking regulation for their AMAs have the option to either apply for a mining lease for Ancillary Mining Activities only, or an Ancillary Mining Activity (AMA) Condition to be imposed on an existing mining lease for minerals.

Development consent under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (if applicable) must be in place before a mining lease or an AMA condition can be granted.

Completion and lodgement of applications

An application for an authority or exploration activity approval must be completed in the specified form and manner, and include all required information.

Read more about lodging applications.

The prescribed fees must be paid at the time of initial lodgement.

Applications are processed in the order in which they are received, against the assessment criteria.

Under the Mining Act 1992, conflicting applications over all or part of the same area are assessed in priority order of lodgement, after taking into consideration the provision of the Act and Regulations.

Applicants have 10 working days to lodge supporting information required as part of an application. However, applicants for an exploration licence over an existing exploration licence for the same groups of minerals must provide supporting information of the existing titleholder’s consent at the time the application is lodged.

Decision making process

The Titles Recommendation Committee (TRC) assesses all applications and makes recommendations for the decision maker to consider regarding grant, renewal or refusal.

Consideration is given to published principles, priorities, policies and decision-making criteria in making a determination, with reasons for decisions appropriately documented.

To ensure optimum development of the State's mineral potential, it is essential that land subject to authorisations issued by the Government are actively explored, developed or mined.

Standard Conditions

Schedule 1B Part 3 of the Mining Act 1992, details the requirement for Conditions of Authorities.

Standard Conditions within an authority detail the requirements on the Title holder/s to ensure their obligations to their title are upheld.

See Standard Conditions