The Operational Allocation framework is an important reform to support existing coal miners and explorers in NSW. It enables the NSW community and industry to maximise the value and longevity of these commitments by allowing existing coal exploration, assessment, or production titleholders to apply for an additional exploration title to avoid sterilisation of resources, support better mine design, or expand existing mining operations.
This framework recognises the commitment that these miners and explorers have already made in NSW, including through investment and jobs provided. Limiting factors on applications for Operational Allocations are designed to ensure industry does not land grab but that there is a practical method to gain extra titles to support operations.
The Operational Allocation framework is outlined in the Operational Allocation Guidelines and replaces the interim coal allocation, or direct allocation, process that was previously in place.
The Operational Allocation framework meets the Government's commitments to implement the Independent Commission Against Corruption recommendations to reduce the opportunities and incentives for corruption in the state's management of coal resources, and the Coal Exploration Steering Committee recommendation that this framework be extended to exploration projects. Both reports noted that there may be times when it makes sense to make an allocation to an existing operator.
Key elements of the new framework are:
- Limiting applications by area instead of coal tonnage,
- explorers or assessment lease titleholders being able to apply where an allocation will both improve mine design and enable access to resources that would otherwise be sterilised.
As well as meeting the requirements of the guidelines, applicants must meet all requirements of the Mining Act 1992, including minimum standards, to be successful.
Interested parties will need to complete an exploration licence application.