Words and terms can have very specific meanings in relation to mineral and petroleum exploration or production and may be new to you. This section explains some of the key terms you might come across when considering a mineral or petroleum proposal in your area or when negotiating a land access arrangement with an explorer.


1P reserve

Is used to categorise deposits of a mineral or petroleum in an area. An area with a 1P reserve has a ‘proven’ reserve, which means there is a reasonable certainty based on an assessment during exploration of the area that the reserve exists.


2P reserve

Is used to categorise deposits of a mineral or petroleum in an area. An area with a 2P reserve contains both ‘proven’ reserves and ‘probable’ reserves. That means there is a reasonable certainty some reserves exist and a likelihood that other reserves exist based on assessment of the area during exploration.


3P reserve

Is used to categorise deposits of a mineral or petroleum in an area. An area with a 3P reserve contains ‘proven’ reserves, ‘probable’ reserves and ‘possible’ reserves of minerals or petroleum. That means there is a reasonable certainty some reserves exist, a likelihood other reserves exist, and a possibility that further reserves exist within the area.

Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit

A permit issued by the Director-General of the Office of Environment and Heritage (or their delegate) allowing a person to desecrate or harm an Aboriginal place or objects.[i]

Access Management Plan

An Access Management Plan contains the terms and conditions on which a mining company will access your land and how mining operations on your land will be managed.


Any area within an Opal Prospecting Area or Mineral Claims District can be declared an Access Management Area and an Access Management Plan will be required before the miner accesses property for prospecting or mining.  


An Access Management Plan may cover the following matters:[ii]

  1. rights of access including access points, routes across land, manner in which access can be exercised, when access is allowed

  2. conditions of access including maintaining routes of access, preserving safety or persons and stock, avoiding interference with land management practices and environmental protection

  3. how disputes are resolved

  4. how the plan may be varied or replaced

  5. any other matters parties want to put in the plan.


Agricultural Impact Statement

Is a risk-based assessment of the impact of a proposed mining or coal seam gas development on agricultural land, water and farming businesses. An Agricultural Impact Statement outlines what measures can be taken to minimise any predicted impacts. An Agricultural Impact Statement is required at both the exploration and the production stages before specific mining or coal seam gas projects can be approved by the NSW Government.



See ‘Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association’.


Aquifer Interference Activity

The Water Management Act 2000 defines an aquifer interference activity as that which involves any of the following:


  1. the penetration of an aquifer

  2. the interference with water in an aquifer

  3. the obstruction of the flow of water in an aquifer

  4. the taking of water from an aquifer in the course of carrying out mining or any other activity prescribed, including coal seam gas extraction, and

  5. the disposal of water taken from an aquifer in the course of carrying out mining or any other activity prescribed, including coal seam gas extraction.


Mining and coal seam gas extraction are considered aquifer interference activities.


Other aquifer interference activities include the extraction of sand and road-base material, the injection of water into the water table, and any commercial, industrial, agricultural or residential activities that intercept the water table or interfere with aquifers.


Activities which are aquifer interference activities will be assessed by the NSW Government under the Aquifer Interference Policy.


Aquifer Interference Policy

Is a NSW Government policy which is one component of the government’s Strategic Regional Land Use Policy package. It details how the potential impacts of mining and petroleum extraction on groundwater aquifers should be assessed and how water used by the mining and coal seam gas industries is licensed and accounted for in the State’s water budget.



Is a process for settling disputes where an independent third person (the arbitrator) hears each side and then tries to help the parties reach an arrangement on land access. If the parties do not agree on an access arrangement then the arbitrator will decide on the terms of the access arrangement.



Is an acronym for Australia Soil and Plant Analysis Council which is an independent international organisation consisting of individuals, laboratories, research and commercial organisations involved in soil and plant tissue analysis. See:



Is an acronym for Australian Soil Resource Information System which provides online access to the best publicly available information on soil and land resources in a consistent format across Australia. See:


Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association

Is an industry organisation which represents oil and gas explorers and producers in Australia. See:



Is a depression in the Earth’s crust[iii].

See also ‘Bowen Basin’, ‘Clarence Moreton Basin’, ‘Surat Basin’, ‘Great Artesian Basin’.


Beneficial reuse

Is a term used in relation to the possible useful disposal of wastewater and other by-products of the coal seam gas extraction process following treatment. Possible beneficial uses include salt production, irrigation, livestock watering, industrial applications and release back into water courses to benefit water flows.



Biomass is biological material derived from living, or recently living organisms. It most often refers to plants or plant-derived materials. As a renewable energy source, biomass can either be used directly via combustion to produce heat, or indirectly after converting it to various forms of biofuel. Historically, humans have harnessed biomass-derived energy since the time when people began burning wood to make fire.


Biophysical Strategic Agricultural Land

Otherwise known as ‘BSAL’, is land which possesses a rare combination of natural resources which makes it highly suitable for agriculture. These lands intrinsically have the best quality landforms, soil and water resources which are naturally capable of sustaining high levels of productivity and require minimal management practices to maintain this high quality. Mining or petroleum operations proposed on land determined to be Biophysical Strategic Agricultural Land will need to be assessed through the Gateway Process before a development application for the proposal can be lodged.



Is a classification of black coal which has a medium energy value. Bituminous coal is used mainly for power generation, but is sometimes used for steel making.

Blast furnace

Is a type of metallurgical furnace used for smelting to produce industrial metals, generally iron.


Bord and pillar

Is a mining system in which the mined material is extracted across a horizontal plane, creating horizontal arrays of rooms (bords) and pillars (blocks of ore). The ore is extracted in two phases. In the first, pillars of untouched material are left to support the roof, and open areas or bords are extracted.



Means a water bore like you might have on your property to access groundwater for drinking or stock water. Bores and coal seam gas wells are regulated more stringently in NSW. If you want to construct a bore to take groundwater for domestic and stock use in NSW and your land overlies the aquifer, the Water Management Act 2000 requires you hold a water supply work approval to construct a water bore, well or spear point to take water under a domestic and stock right.[iv]


Bowen Basin

Is an area of over 60,000 km2 in Central Queensland where minerals and coal seam gas are extracted.


British Thermal Unit (BTU)

Is a measure of energy which refers to the amount of energy needed to cool or heat 453 grams (one pound) of water by 17 degrees Celsius (1 degree Fahrenheit). In scientific contexts the BTU has largely been replaced by the ‘joule’. BTU can describe the heat value (or energy content) of petroleum. One BTU is equal to about 1055 joules.225


Brown Coal

See ‘Lignite’.



See ‘Biophysical Strategic Agricultural Land‘.



Is an acronym which stands for ‘benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, and xyelene’, which is a group of common chemicals found in petroleum products including lubricants, petrol and plastics. BTEX chemicals have been associated with the coal seam gas industry because they were sometimes present in the hydraulic fracturing process. The NSW Government banned the use of BTEX chemicals in hydraulic fracturing in 2011. (See ‘Hydraulic Fracturing’). Benzene is a known carcinogen (cancer causing). Toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes are not recognized as carcinogenic.


BTU (British Thermal Unit)

See ‘British Thermal Unit’.


Bulk commodities

Are low value materials such as iron ore and coal which are transported in large quantities for processing.


Calorific Value

Is a measure of the amount of energy stored in a substance, such as coal or gas and refers to the heat produced when the material is combusted.


Carbon dioxide

Or CO2, is a colourless, odourless gas which is formed when carbon combines with oxygen. Carbon dioxide is a major greenhouse gas.



See ‘Critical Industry Cluster‘.


Clarence Moreton Basin

Is a geological zone which takes in the north-east corner of NSW and stretches into southern Queensland. The basin contains rich sources of coal seam gas. The region is lightly explored in NSW in comparison with that in Queensland.

Clean Coal Technologies

Are technologies which improve the environmental performance of coal and other energy use through decreased greenhouse gas emissions.



Is an organic sedimentary rock formed from partly decayed plant material which has been metamorphosed by heat and pressure of geologic time.


Coal Bed Methane (CBM)

See ‘Coal Seam Gas’ and ‘Methane’.

Coal preparation

The process to convert mined coal to provide a pure product. This is done by washing out ash, either through crushing and sieving, electro-static treatment or with liquid.


Coal Seam Gas (CSG)

Is also called ‘Coal Seam Methane’ or ‘Coal Bed Methane’ or ‘Unconventional Gas’ and refers to the gas (mainly methane along with small percentages of nitrogen and carbon dioxide) which is found in coal seams. Coal Seam Gas is extracted from coal seams at depths of 300 to 1000 metres by drilling a well from land. Once the well has reached the coal seam water is pumped out which decreases pressure in the seam causing the gas to flow to the surface.


Coal Seam Methane

See ‘Coal Seam Gas’ and ‘Methane’.


Coal terminal

Is a facility used to stockpile coal for transport.



The process where heat and pressure turn decomposing plant material to coal.


Code of Practice

A document which typically sets out principles, values, standards or rules of behaviour that guide the decisions, procedures and systems of an organisation in a way that contributes to achieving desired outcomes.217


There are currently four codes that have been published by DRE as part of IMER and incorporated into licence conditions, being Environmental Management, Produced Water, Community Consultation and Rehabilitation. These codes apply to all resource exploration activities.


In addition, there are two codes of practice for coal seam gas, being for fracture stimulation and well integrity. These two codes apply at Exploration and Production stages, and are further supported by the Exploration and Production Guideline: Drilling and Integrity of Boreholes and Wells, which applies to all resources in addition to coal seam gas.

The codes of practice are applied through a condition on the title. Failure by an explorer to comply with the conditions of their title can result in enforcement by the NSW Government. That could include prosecution or even cancellation of the title.



A solid lump of almost pure carbon formed when coal is heated (at heats as high as 2000°F (1093°C) in the absence of air.)  This de-volatilised coal is used as a reductant in the blast furnace.  It is derived from coking coal. Coke is hard, grey and porous, and is used in iron and steelmaking.


Coking coal

Coal from which coke is produced (also known as metallurgical coal).  It is a low-ash, low-sulphur bituminous coal.225



Refers to a coal mine, including all associated buildings and equipment.


Compensable Loss

A mining or petroleum company is required to pay a landholder compensation for land access to compensate the landholder for the loss of the use of their land which is used for the mining or petroleum activity, otherwise known as the ‘compensable loss’.


Compressor station

Is a component of a coal seam gas distribution network. Once coal seam gas has been extracted from the earth it is compressed at a compressor station before being pumped under pressure to a storage facility.


Consent Authority

Can either be a Minister, Local Council, Joint Regional Planning Panel or Planning Assessment Commission. The consent authority will assess a development application and can grant consent to allow the project to proceed. Consent authorities can also attach conditions to the consent in order to minimise environmental impacts. 


Controlled Action

Is an action that the Federal Minister for the Environment has declared will have a significant impact on a matter of national environmental significance and will therefore need to be assessed and approved under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 before it can proceed.


Conventional Gas

Natural gas is categorised as either ‘conventional gas’ or ‘unconventional gas’. Conventional gas is easier and cheaper to extract from the ground because of the way the rock formations in the earth trap the gas. Coal Seam Gas is not a conventional gas, but rather an unconventional gas.


Core drill

Is a specially designed drill used to extract a ‘core sample’ from the earth. Core drilling is used during the exploration stage by exploration companies. The cylinder of rock sample removed by the drill is examined by geologists and others to establish the quality and quantity of minerals or petroleum present.


Core sample

Is the cylindrical sample of rock extracted from the earth by a core drill.



A trench dug with a backhoe, ‘ditch-witch’ or similar equipment and used in geochemical surveys.



Is the digging of a trench or pit cut across the conjectured line of outcrop of a seam or ore body to expose the full width.


Critical Industry Cluster (CIC)

A Critical Industry Cluster (CIC) is one of the two categories of Strategic Agricultural Land in NSW under the NSW Government’s Strategic Regional Land Use Policy.


A CIC is defined as a ‘localised concentration of interrelated productive industries based on an agricultural product that provides significant employment opportunities and contributes to the identity of the region.’


To be a CIC the land must also have the potential to be substantially impacted by coal seam gas or mining proposals.


Mining proposed on land mapped as CIC  must past through the Gateway Process before a development application for the proposal can be lodged. CICs are exclusion areas for coal seam gas

Crown, the

Is another term used to describe a government. The Crown is the legal embodiment of the executive, legislative, or judicial arms of government. It is more correct to say ‘the Crown’ owns all minerals and petroleum in NSW than to say the NSW Government owns the minerals and petroleum.



See ‘Calorific Value’.



See ‘Development Control Plan’.



Is the process of removing pressure (by removing water) from a coal seam to allow coal seam gas to flow to the surface.


Designated Development

Is a type of development which is likely to have a high impact (e.g. is likely to generate pollution), or that is located in or near an environmentally sensitive area in NSW. Local councils are responsible for assessing Designated Developments but this role can also rest with a Joint Regional Planning Panel which is an independent planning body set up by the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure in certain areas.


Development application

Is submitted by a mining or petroleum company to the consent authority (who may be the Minister, Local Council or Planning Assessment Commission) to seek approval (known as ‘development consent’) for proposed developments or projects.

Development consent

An approval received as a result of a Development Application.

Development Control Plan (DCP)

Outlines a local government’s (council’s) rules for development in the local government area. A development control plan may include particular rules in relation to, for example, parking controls, setbacks, total floor areas of developments and building heights.



Is the removal of water from an aquifer as part of the construction phase of a development or part of ongoing mining activities to maintain access, serviceability and/or safe operating procedures.[v]


Directional Drilling

See ‘Horizontal Drilling’.


Division of Resources and Energy

Is part of the NSW Department of Trade and Investment. The Division is responsible for administering policy and legislation relating to mining and petroleum licensing and issues mining and petroleum titles once approved. The Office of Coal Seam Gas within the NSW Department of Trade and Investment regulates coal seam gas activities in NSW, See

DPI Water

The water division within the NSW Department of Primary Industries.


It is responsible for management of the state’s surface water and groundwater resources, including in accordance with the Aquifer Interference Policy.


Previously known as the NSW Office of Water (NOW).



Is a large bucket excavator used in open-cut mines.

[i]       NSW Minerals Council NSW Minerals Industry Exploration Handbook (September 2013).

[ii]      Mining Act 1992 (NSW) s 236D.

[iii]     Australian Coal Glossary.

[iv]     NSW Government Constructing a bore (Department of Primary Industries, NSW Office of Water).

[v]      NSW Government Aquifer Interference Policy (September 2012).