IMPROVED MANAGEMENT OF EXPLORATION REGULATION

 

Through a project the NSW Government calls ‘Improved Management of Exploration Regulation’ (IMER), the regulation of mineral, coal and petroleum exploration in NSW is being overhauled to streamline rules across all types of exploration activities and improve transparency. This chapter provides a summary of the IMER work being undertaken and introduces the reform components covered in more detail on other pages.

 

IMER Summary

The regulation of mineral, coal and petroleum exploration in NSW is being overhauled to streamline rules across all types of exploration activities.

 

Key to the reforms is a reduction in regulatory duplication, with 69 petroleum title conditions, 54 coal title conditions and 35 mineral title conditions being cut to 13 standard conditions for all resources.

 

It is important to note that these reforms relate to exploration titles, applications for those titles, and activities conducted under those titles (for example, an Exploration Licence or a Petroleum Exploration Licence) and not to production or mining titles (for example, a Mining Lease or a Petroleum Production Lease).

 

The IMER reform commenced on 1 July 2015. Key components of the reforms phased in from 1 July 2015 are:

  • the streamlining of title conditions for all resources

  • the removal of a three-year administrative limit on licence terms for mineral explorers, allowing explorers to seek a title for the full statutory six years

  • the replacement of 69 petroleum title conditions, 54 coal title conditions and 35 mineral title conditions with 13 new conditions that apply to all activities undertaken under a licence and at all times

  • proposed work programs submitted along with an application for an exploration title will be required to include details not only of pure exploration activities, but also environmental management, rehabilitation and community consultation

  • standard licence conditions will require compliance with the work program during the term of a licence and set a minimum standard of performance under the Exploration Licence

  • new codes of practice will support the regulation of specific activities and will impose enforceable mandatory requirements; where there is a higher risk, prescriptive regulation will be applied

  • streamlined reporting requirements which allow an explorer to submit activity, exploration, environmental management, rehabilitation and community consultation reports all at the same time.

 

Other components of the reforms implemented later in 2015 are:

  • the introduction of a streamlined assessment process for common exploration activities that are unlikely to have a significant impact on the environment and which meet specific location requirements and satisfy impact thresholds and criteria

  • the introduction of more intensive analysis and assessment of exploration activities, and a requirement that applications for these activities be accompanied by environmental impact assessment information.

 

Flowchart of exploration application and assessment process
 

below you will find flow charts that provide an overview of the application and assessment process for proposed mining and petroleum exploration activities in NSW following implementation of the IMER reforms.

 

Aspects of the IMER overviewed in this Part
 

The following chapters overview some of the reforms introduced as part of IMER, and provide links to more detail on each reform available online.

 

The reforms overviewed are:

  • Minimum Standards and Merit Assessment Procedure;

  • New Exploration Codes of Practice;

  • New Guidelines; and

  • Standard Title Instruments.