NEW GUIDELINES
 

The NSW Government has developed in consultation with petroleum, mining and agricultural stakeholders guidelines intended to assist explorers in understanding requirements and processes associated with various exploration activities. These guides are designed to represent best practice for the mining and petroleum industry for a range of areas and may assist in informing land holders about the best way of engaging with these industries.

 

Overview
 

The NSW Government has developed in consultation with petroleum, mining and agricultural stakeholders guidelines intended to assist explorers in understanding requirements and processes associated with various exploration activities.

 

The development of guidelines under the IMER is a work in progress. The following guides are published and explained in detail below:

  • Exploration Guideline: Petroleum land access;

  • Exploration Guideline: Work programs for prospecting titles;

  • Assessment requirements for exploration activities;

  • Guideline for preparing a Review of Environmental Factors; and

  • Exploration Guideline: Annual Activity for Prospecting Titles.

 

In addition the following guides are currently in development and will be released in due course.

  • Industry guideline for coal explorers

  • Industry guideline for petroleum explorers

  • Industry guideline for assessment leases

 

The NSW Governments proposed intention is that many of these guides will overtime be refined and gain the status of codes similar to those in the previous section.

 

Exploration Guideline: Petroleum Land Access
 

The Exploration Guideline: Petroleum Land Access has been developed by the NSW Land and Water Commissioner in consultation with NSW Farmers’, Cotton Australia, the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, the Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association, Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia, the NSW Wine Industry Association, the Office of Coal Seam Gas, and the Division of Resources and Energy within the NSW Department of Industry, Skills and Regional Development.

 

The guideline establishes a best practice framework for petroleum explorers when negotiating a land access arrangement with a landholder under the Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991.

 

The guideline also contains example provisions which could be included in a land access arrangement.

 

The NSW Government intends to introduce a Land Access Code containing mandatory provisions which explorers must follow when negotiating land access arrangements for petroleum exploration. Upon legislative reform, the Exploration Guideline: Petroleum Land Access will be amended and reissued as a Land Access Code and have legal effect.

 

Structure of the guideline

The Exploration Guideline: Petroleum Land Access is structured in four parts:

 

Part A: Introduction – contains the introductory text and an overview of the guideline;

 

Part B: Guidance for initiating land access negotiations – sets out best practice guidelines for how explorers should initiate and negotiate land access arrangements;

 

Part C: Provisions for land access arrangements – sets out recommended provisions for land access arrangements; and

 

Appendix 1: Definitions – defines terms used in the guideline.

 

Part B: Guidance for initiating land access negotiations

This section sets out best practice guidelines for how explorers are expected to initiate and negotiate land access arrangements. It applies to the period before an access arrangement is finalised.

 

This section of the guideline includes principles which should guide explorers when initiating land access negotiations.

 

The principles outlined are:

  • the development of good relations between landholders and explorers requires good communication, including the provision of clear, accurate and easy to understand information;

  • the development of good relations between landholders and explorers requires recognition of the rights and responsibilities of both parties;

  • in particular, respect for privacy, property rights and water entitlements of landholders is critical to building trust and good long term relationships;

  • explorers should be courteous, consult regularly, and comply with statutory and contractual obligations; and

  • explorers should negotiate in good faith.[i]

 

This section of the guideline also contains guidance on appointing a responsible person to facilitate effective communication between the explorer and the landholder; the initial contact between the parties; on how negotiations are initiated; on how a first meeting of the parties could be conducted; and on the duration of an access arrangement.

 

Part C: Provisions for land access arrangements

This section contains example provisions which are recommended to be included in all land access arrangements.

 

The example provisions relate to:

  • the payment of compensation;

  • notice periods required before land is accessed;

  • requirements of the explorer before and during activities in relation to, for example, keeping the landholder informed of activities;

  • access points, roads and tracks;

  • induction training by explorers of contractors and employees;

  • water regulation;

  • the prevention of the spread of weeds, pests and diseases;

  • minimising disturbance to livestock and property;

  • the treatment by the explorer of gates, fences and grids;

  • items which must not be brought onto the land;

  • the provision to the landholder of details of any chemicals brought onto the land; and

  • requirements once activities are completed, such as in relation to rehabilitation of the land.

     

Where will I find a copy of the Exploration Guideline: Petroleum Land Access?

The Exploration Guideline: Petroleum Land Access is available to view or download online.

 

To view or download a copy of the Exploration Guideline: Petroleum Land Access visit:

Exploration Guideline: Petroleum Land Access

 

Exploration Guideline: Works Programs for Prospecting Titles
 

A work program is a description of the nature and extent of exploration, environmental management and rehabilitation, and community consultation activities that are proposed to be performed under a prospecting title. The work program is the way the NSW Government ensures an explorer will achieve the objectives of resources legislation.

 

Work programs are used:

  • to assess applications for the grant or renewal of a prospecting title; and

  • if a prospecting title is granted, to ensure the title holder carries out effective exploration during the term of the title.

 

If a prospecting title is granted, the work program becomes a single document maintained for the term of the prospecting title, varied as required.

 

As compliance with the approved work program is a condition of every prospecting title, the work program document will be a record of all approved work program activities (including variations) for the life of the prospecting title.

 

Approved work programs will also be attached to prospecting title documents.

 

The Division of Resources and Energy within the Department of Industry, Skills and Regional Development is responsible for receiving, assessing and approving work programs, and monitoring work program performance.

 

The Exploration Guideline: Works Programs for Prospecting Titles has been prepared to assist explorers in preparing work programs.

 

Structure of the guideline

The Exploration Guideline: Work Programs for Prospecting Titles is structured in three parts:

 

Part A: Introduction – contains the introductory text and an overview of the guideline;

 

Part B: Contents of a Work Program – sets out the components that make up a work program; and

 

Part C: Submission of a Work Program – details the methods by which a work plan is submitted.

 

Part B: Contents of a work program

This section sets out what should be included in a work program including objectives, exploration activities intended, environmental and rehabilitation activities intended and planned community consultation.

 

In addition it sets out what must be included in a work program in order to be approved by the department:

  • Proposed exploration objectives and rationale;

  • Proposed exploration methods;

  • Proposed environmental management and rehabilitation;

  • Proposed community consultation activities;

  • Proposed yearly expenditure based on the work plan

 

In addition the guideline provides for how work plans may both include variation and be reviewed.

 

Finally this part deals with how work plans are assessed by the department in respect of each of the above elements. 

 

Where will I find a copy of the Exploration Guideline: Work programs for prospecting titles?

The Exploration Guideline: Work programs for prospecting titles is available to view or download online.

 

To view or download a copy of the Exploration Guideline: Work programs for prospecting titles visit:

Exploration Guideline: Work programs for prospecting titles

 

Assessment Requirements for Exploration Activities
 

Exploration activities for petroleum and minerals can involve a variety of techniques and intensities and can occur on land with a variety of properties. These variables mean that the impact a particular exploration activity might have on the environment can differ widely depending on a range of factors.

 

This guideline sets out the process and mechanisms the department uses to assess exploration activities. It also advises potential explorers on the requirements and assessments they must make and submit in order to gain approval for exploration activities. 

 

Structure of the guideline

The Assessment Requirements for Exploration Activities is structured in five parts:

 

Part A: Assessment requirements – sets out the assessment requirements for different exploration activities;

 

Part B: Common exploration activities – gives specific guidance on common exploration activities;

 

Part C: Departmental information – contains additional department information relevant to assessment and determination of exploration;

 

Part D: Resources – contains relevant reference material and dictionary;

 

Appendix 1: Common exploration activities checklist – provides a checklist for determining CEAs .

 

Part A: Assessment Requirements

This section sets out the requirements that explorers must meet in order to comply with the relevant planning legislation and regulations.

 

It sets out the features used to determine the level of information needed and precautions taken for a particular activity.  In particular determining features include:

  1. When the title was issued;

  2. The location of the activity; and

  3. The intensity and nature of the activity.

 

The section focuses on explaining the different processes that need to be followed for different categories of exploration activity. Chiefly it makes a distinction between ‘Common Exploration Activities’ (CEA) and Non-CEA and that these have different assessment pathways, CEA having an accelerated assessment pathway. Of particular note is that all petroleum exploration activities are deemed non-CEA assessable.

 

Part B: Common exploration activities

This section explains how explorations are classified as CEA or non-CEA and sets out the three criteria that must be met in order to classify an activity as CEA and therefore put in a streamlined process.

 

In order for an exploration activity to be a CEA it must meet the following three criteria:

  • Location restriction – the activity must not be in an area deemed of higher environmental, social or heritage value;

  • Impact Thresholds and Criteria – the cumulative impact of all aspects of the activity under the licence must not exceed certain thresholds; and

  • Management controls – the activity must be able to operate within the scope of all codes of practice relevant to the activity.

 

For each of these requirements the chapter details the exact requirements in order to satisfy CEA status.

 

Part C: Departmental information

Sets out and provides links to information regarding security deposits, auditing and privacy for title holders undertaking exploration activities.

 

Appendix 1: Common exploration activities checklist

This section provides a checklist for licence holders looking to undertake exploration activities to guide them in determining what information they need to provide and how their planned activities will be classified.

 

Where will I find a copy of the Assessment Requirements for exploration activities?

The Assessment requirements for exploration activities are available to view or download online.

 

To view or download a copy of the Assessment requirements for exploration activities visit:

Assessment requirements for exploration activities

 

Guideline for Mineral Exploration Drilling; Drilling and integrity of Petroleum Exploration and Production Wells

 

Petroleum and mineral exploration and production titles and authorities are granted with conditions aimed at ensuring ecologically sustainable development and social responsibility. This guideline provides guidance for fulfilling these conditions with respect to mineral exploration drilling, petroleum exploration drilling and petroleum production wells.

 

The guideline sets out potential risks associated with these activities, provides information on industry best practice for risk mitigation, and sets out appropriate monitoring and record keeping practices.

 

The Guideline for Mineral Exploration Drilling; Drilling and integrity of Petroleum Exploration and Production Wells has been prepared to assist mineral and petroleum explorers in preparing work programs.

 

Structure of the guideline

The Guideline for Mineral Exploration Drilling; Drilling and integrity of Petroleum Exploration and Production Wells is structured in four parts:

 

  • Part A: Introduction – contains the introductory text and an overview of the guideline;

  • Part B: Guidelines for all drilling activities – contains general provisions relevant to all drilling techniques and targets and which should be considered for the planning, operation and decommissioning of all drillholes and wells. Part B should therefore be read in its entirety and understood by all explorers and drillers.

  • Part C: Detailed risk assessment and controls – should be used as a tool to assist with the identification of hazards and potential risk control measures associated with drilling programs.

  • Appendices, which outline reporting and recording requirements, provide definitions of terminology used in the guideline and provide links to industry standards information.

 

Where will I find a copy of the Guideline for Mineral Exploration Drilling; Drilling and Integrity of Petroleum Exploration and Production Wells?

The Guideline for Mineral Exploration Drilling; Drilling and integrity of Petroleum Exploration and Production Wells is available to view or download online.

 

To view or download a copy of the Guideline for Mineral Exploration Drilling; Drilling and integrity of Petroleum Exploration and Production Wells visit:

Guideline for Mineral Exploration Drilling; Drilling and integrity of Petroleum Exploration and Production Wells

 
Exploration and Production Guideline: Petroleum Drilling and Well Servicing - Competencies
 

It is important that those working in and around petroleum operations have the appropriate skills and technical knowledge to operate the petroleum operation safely and correctly. This guideline sets out recommended competencies for those personnel.

 

Structure of the guideline

The Exploration and Production Guideline: Petroleum Drilling and Well Servicing is structured in four parts:

 

  • Part A: Introduction – contains the introductory text and an overview of the guideline including its position in the legislative framework;

  • Part B: Petroleum competencies – Recommends relevant competencies and or qualifications to be held by personnel undertaking petroleum drilling activities;

  • Appendix 1: Explanatory notes – provides additional information and rationale for part B; and

  • Appendix 2: Interpretation and definitions – provides interpretation and defines terms used in the guideline.

 

Part B: Petroleum competencies

This section sets out the workforce competencies for petroleum operations and how these are obtained.

 

Where will I find a copy of the Exploration and Production Guideline: Petroleum Drilling and Well Servicing - Competencies?

The Exploration and Production Guideline: Petroleum Drilling and Well Servicing - Competencies is available to view or download online.

 

To view or download a copy of the Exploration and Production Guideline: Petroleum Drilling and Well Servicing - Competencies visit:

Exploration and Production Guideline: Petroleum Drilling and Well Servicing - Competencies

 

Guideline for Preparing a Review of Environmental Factors

 

A review of environmental factors (REF) is a document that is produced by an explorer or the NSW Government for petroleum or minerals and forms part of the review and assessment application for some exploration activities.

 

An REF is essentially a cut down form of a full environmental impact statement which is approved by DRE under Part 5 of the EP&A Act for projects where some degree of environmental check is necessary but not where the potential for environmental damage is large i.e. in cases of mining production.

 

The guideline sets out when where and why a REF will be required including the subclasses of REF, how they should be prepared and what they should contain. It also provides examples and specific guides for REFs in differing circumstances.

 

Structure of the guideline

The Exploration Guideline: Review of Environmental Factors is structured in six parts:

 

  • Introduction – contains the introductory text and an overview of the guideline and explains REF role within the greater compliance and regulatory system;

  • Content requirements for a REF – sets out the content requirements of an REF;

  • Definitions – defines terms used in the guideline;

  • Appendix 1: Identification of Sensitive Land – provides a table of all types of sensitive and the means for their identification;

  • Appendix 2: Summary of Potential Impacts – provides a proforma for identifying potential impacts to the environment;

  • Appendix 3: Example Statement of Commitments – provides an example statement of commitments. 

 

Content requirements for a REF

This section sets out in detail what is required in an REF including details about the site, environmental issues, the proposed activities and an impact assessment.

 

Within each section the guideline advises what should be included, how it should be presented. In addition it details the methodologies that should be used in certain sections of the REF.

 

In addition an REF must include various conclusions and summaries as well as a statement of commitments detailing actions to minimise environmental impact.

 

Where will I find a copy of the Guideline for Preparing a Review of Environmental Factors?

The Guideline for Preparing a Review of Environmental Factors  is available to view or download online.

 

To view or download a copy of the Guideline for Preparing a Review of Environmental factors visit:

Guideline for Preparing a Review of Environmental Factors

 

Exploration Guideline: Annual Activity Reporting for Prospecting Titles

 

Prospecting titles are granted with the objective of encouraging ecologically sustainable development, social responsibility and building economic wealth for NSW.

To demonstrate effective and competent exploration, title holders are required to submit annual reports of their activities. The reports describe work completed against the approved work program and environmental activity approvals. The Division of Resource and Energy within the Department of Industry, Skills and Regional Development (the Department) is responsible for receiving, assessing and approving annual reports.

Annual Activity Reporting is required under the following standard condition of prospecting titles:

‘Unless otherwise approved by the Minister, the licence holder must submit annual reports prepared in accordance with 'Exploration Guideline: Annual Activity Reporting for Prospecting Titles”

 

Structure of the guideline

Exploration Guideline: Annual Activity Reporting for Prospecting Titles is structured in three parts:

 

  • Part A: Introduction – contains the introductory text and an overview of the guideline;

  • Part B: Content of annual activity reports – details each of the components of an annual activity report; an

  • Part C: Online submission of annual activity report – details how and what needs submitted online by the licence holder.

Part B: Content of Annual Activity Reports

This section details the components of Annual activity reports. Annual activity reports have four components.

  • Annual Activity Summary and Expenditure Table – this in includes a list of exploration activities, environmental and community consultation work completed including a summary of how much of the work plan was completed;

  • Exploration – a report in accordance with the relevant legislation setting out the geological data obtained from the exploration;

  • Environmental management and rehabilitation – a compliance report prepared in accordance with the relevant guideline; and

  • Community consultation – required for coal and petroleum must again be prepared in accordance with the relevant guideline.

 

Where will I find a copy of the Exploration Guideline: Annual Activity Reporting for Prospecting Titles?

The Exploration Guideline: Annual Activity Reporting for Prospecting Titles is available to view or download online.

 

To view or download a copy of the  Exploration Guideline: Annual Activity Reporting for Prospecting Titles  visit:

Exploration Guideline: Annual Activity Reporting for Prospecting Titles

 

[i] NSW Government Code of Practice for Land Access Page vi (November 2013).

 

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