At the pre-exploration stage an explorer will gather and examine data and may use low impact investigation methods to identify areas in the State it wishes to target for more detailed exploration. At this stage an explorer will generally not seek access to your land. However, if the explorer does seek access to your land it will need to negotiate a land access arrangement with you. Before an explorer can move from the pre-exploration stage to the exploration stage it must apply for and be granted an exploration licence by the NSW Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy.
The pre-exploration stage
At the pre-exploration stage an explorer will gather data and may use no- or low-impact investigation methods to identify key areas of the State they may wish to target for more detailed exploration.
The explorer might examine geological and geophysical data publicly available from the NSW Government, data submitted to Government by other explorers, or data obtained commercially from other explorers.
This early stage in the planning, exploration and production process does not require a title from the NSW Government, although a title which sets aside an area of land for exclusive pre-exploration may be applied for.
Before an explorer can proceed from the pre-exploration stage to the exploration stage, it must apply to the NSW Minister for Industry Resources and Energy for an exploration licence.
Sources of pre-exploration information
The NSW Government’s New Frontiers initiative is designed to stimulate mineral and petroleum investment in under-explored areas of the State.
New Frontiers is funded through annual rental fees placed on mineral and petroleum titles to develop pre-competitive geoscience, including geophysical surveys, mapping, data compilation, interpretation and data delivery.
For information on the New Frontiers program visit:
Geological Survey of NSW
The Geological Survey of NSW is the custodian of the state’s geological, geophysical and mineral resources mapping and information.
The Geological Survey of NSW developed a number of publicly available resources which bring together geological information along with information on mineral and petroleum titles and activity in the state, namely:
DIGS internet service, which provides global access to the state’s open-file exploration results and includes company exploration reports covering the past 125 years
the MinView internet service, which provides on-line map viewing of the state’s exploration and mining titles, geology and other geo-data information
the Geoscience Data Warehouse, which provides online access to spatial and non-spatial geoscientific relational data for NSW
the Common Ground web portal, which provides interactive and user-friendly maps detailing current titles for mining and petroleum.
For more information on the DIGS system see:
For more information on MinView see:
Pre-exploration for petroleum
If a petroleum explorer finds a reserve and wants to explore it in more detail but is not ready to apply for a Petroleum Exploration Licence, the explorer can apply for a Petroleum Special Prospecting Authority.
Unlike other titles, a Petroleum Special Prospecting Authority does not allow the holder to explore for or produce petroleum. Such a title is used for preliminary studies for explorers to determine whether an application for an exploration licence might be desired.
For more information on Petroleum Special Prospecting Authorities see:
For information on how you can have your say on a Petroleum Special Prospecting Authority Application in your area or over your land see:
Will the holder of a Petroleum Special Prospecting Authority want access to my land?
Generally, a holder of a Petroleum Special Prospecting Authority will not seek access to your land.
However, if access to your land is sought, the explorer would need to first negotiate a land access arrangement with you.
For more information on land access see the page:
Application for an Exploration Licence
In the case of mineral exploration, before an explorer can proceed from the pre-exploration to the exploration stage the explorer must apply for an Exploration Licence under the Mining Act 1992 which can be granted for a period of up to six years.
In the case of petroleum exploration, before an explorer can proceed from the pre-exploration to the exploration stage the explorer must apply for a Petroleum Exploration Licence under the Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991 which can be granted for a period of up to six years.
As part of the application, the explorer will need to:
identify the mineral or petroleum for which they seek to explore,
describe the area over which they seek to explore,
demonstrate they have sufficient financial resources to meet the financial commitments under the Exploration Licence,
list technical companies or individuals who will oversee the exploration activities,
submit a proposed Work Program including exploration methods and expected expenditure,
provide a statement of Environmental Performance Record,
specify the period for which the explorer seeks the licence, and
provide a security bond (at least $10,000).
For more information on how you can have your say on an Exploration Licence Application see:
How will I know about an Exploration Licence Application over my land?
For mineral exploration licence applications, notice of the application must be published in one state-wide newspaper and one local newspaper within 45 days of lodging the application.
For petroleum exploration licence applications, there is no legislative requirement that notice of the application be published. However, it is NSW Government policy that such applications are advertised in one regional and one local newspaper as well as on the Department of Industry website.
For more information on current exploration licence applications in NSW visit:
 Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1992 (NSW) s 4A
 NSW Government Instructions for lodging an exploration licence application online. (Department of Industry). Accessed July 2014
 NSW Government Current coal exploration licence applications. (Department of Industry). Accessed July 2014