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.



Is an area of land on your property which someone else has the right to use even though they do not own the land. Any easement over your land will be detailed in your title documents.


Ecologically Sustainable Development

Is a concept enshrined in a number of environmental laws that seeks to integrate environmental considerations into decision making. It amounts to a development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.



See ‘Exploration Licence’.



Exploration Licence Application.

See also ‘Exploration Licence’


Energy mix

Refers to the combination of available fuel sources used to provide energy.  The ‘mix’ includes coal, gas, oil, water (hydro), uranium (nuclear), wind, sunlight (solar) and geothermal.


Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979  (EP&A Act)

Is the principal legislation in NSW for regulating the planning and development approval process.


Environmental Planning Instrument

Are policies or regulations made by the NSW Government under the EP&A Act. They include Local Environmental Plans and State Environmental Planning Policies.



Is an acronym used for the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. See:


EP&A Act

See ‘Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979‘.


Equine Critical Industry Cluster

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

Two Critical Industry Clusters have been mapped to date in NSW – the Equine Critical Industry Cluster and the Viticulture Critical Industry Cluster – both of which are in the Upper Hunter Region.


See also ‘Critical Industry Cluster‘.


Evaporation Pond or Evaporation Dam

Is used to hold coal seam gas wastewater to allow it to evaporate into the atmosphere leaving solid wastes. The NSW Government banned the use of evaporation ponds by the coal seam gas industry in 2011.


Exempt Development

Neither planning nor construction approval is required for exempt developments in NSW.  These developments are considered to be low impact and adhere to established development standards.



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


Exploration Licence (EL)

All exploration and mining activity in NSW must be conducted on a mining or exploration title (an authority, licence or lease). An Exploration Licence gives the minerals explorer that holds the licence an exclusive right to explore for a particular resource in the area covered by the licence. An Exploration Licence can be granted for a period of two to six years.



Is a mining or petroleum company or subcontractor of the mining or petroleum company during the exploration stage. The purpose of the explorer’s activities is to locate areas where petroleum resources may be present, to establish the quality and quantity of those resources, and to investigate the viability of extracting the resource. An explorer will have a title to explore from the NSW Government.



Is the act of removing something. In the case of coal seam gas, it is the act of removing the gas from the coal seam. In the case of minerals, it is the act of mining the resource from the ground. Petroleum (including coal seam gas) is extracted, whereas minerals (including coal) are mined.


Flowback Water

Water extracted from a petroleum well following fracture stimulation. It is different from produced water in that produced water is only groundwater extracted from the borehole.


Fracking (or Fraccing) chemicals

Are chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process to, amongst other things, reduce surface tension, adjust pH, reduce or increase viscosity, aid gas flow, and clean and lubricate wells and equipment. Fraccing chemicals used in NSW previously contained BTEX chemicals which were banned by the NSW Government in 2011.


Fracking or Fraccing

See ‘Hydraulic Fracturing’.


Fugitive emissions

Are releases of gas into the atmosphere from pressurised equipment through valves, pipe connections, mechanical seals, or related equipment due to leaks and other unintended or irregular releases. As well as the economic cost of the lost gas, fugitive emissions contribute to air pollution and climate change. Fugitive emissions can also occur at evaporative sources such as waste water treatment ponds and storage tanks.


Gas in place

Is the quantity of gas which is estimated to be contained in a known coal formation or discrete area.



A machine which, when the magnet around its shaft is turned, generates electricity in the surrounding coils of wire.



Is a natural soil formation characterised by a markedly undulating surface sometimes with mounds and depressions; probably caused by swelling and cracking of clays during alternating wet and dry seasons. Gilgai more specifically refers to a depression or hole in the ground which drains off surface water, forming a natural reservoir (lake or pond).



See ‘Gas in Place’.



Is an acronym for Geographic Information System.


Great Artesian Basin

Is the largest and deepest artesian basin in the world, stretching over a total of 1,700,000 square kilometres (660,000 sq mi). It underlies 23% of the Australian continent, including most of Queensland, the south-east corner of the Northern Territory, the north-east part of South Australia, and northern New South Wales. The basin is 3,000 metres (9,800ft) deep in places and is estimated to contain 64,900 cubic kilometres (15,600 cu mi) of groundwater. The Great Artesian Basin provides the only reliable source of freshwater through much of inland Australia.


Greenhouse gas

Refers to any of a number of gases found in the atmosphere that contribute to the greenhouse effect. Methane (the major component of coal seam gas) is a greenhouse gas if released into the atmosphere unburned.



Is the unexcavated face of exposed underburden and coal or ore in an opencast mine or the face or bank of the uphill side of a contour strip-mine excavation.


Holding pond

Is a dam used to store coal seam gas related wastewater until the water can be transported for treatment.


Horizontal drilling

Refers to the practice of drilling an oil or gas well at an angle to the vertical, from a vertical well, so that the well runs parallel to the formation containing the oil or gas. In the case of coal seam gas extraction, it refers to the process of drilling a well at an angle to the vertical to follow the coal seam. Using current technology, a coal seam gas company can horizontally drill from a vertical well up to 1km depending on the formation of the coal seam, and can drill horizontal wells at various points from a vertical coal seam gas well.[i]


Hydraulic connection

Is a path or conduit allowing fluids to be connected. The degree to which a groundwater system can respond hydraulically to changes in hydraulic head.


Hydraulic Fracturing

Is a process used to stimulate and accelerate the flow of coal seam gas. The process involves the injection of sand, water and chemicals into the coal seam gas well at high pressure. The injection breaks up (fractures) the coal seam releasing the gas so it can flow to the surface.


[i]   Santos site visit (July 2013).