Prospecting

Mining and exploration companies searching for the location of mineral and energy resources will need permission before accessing Crown land.

The companies require an exploration licence, granted under the Mining Act 1992, to receive exclusive rights to explore for specific minerals within a designated area. It does not permit mining or guarantee a mining lease will be granted in the future. As part of the exploration licence, the company is required to approach relevant landholders and agree on access arrangements.

The NSW Department of Planning & Environment, Resources & Energy approves and regulates these licences.

Accessing Crown land

Where the NSW Department of Industry—Lands & Water is responsible for the Crown land it will negotiate access arrangements with exploration licence holders. This only applies when the department is the ‘landholder’ (i.e. there is no tenure granted over the land and there is no appointed reserve trust manager).

There will be times where the department is not the landholder (as defined in the Mining Act), but administers the land on behalf of the Crown and the NSW community. When this is the case, the department will provide the exploration holder with the tenure holder or reserve trust details. It will then be up to the exploration licence holder to negotiate access arrangement with the identified landholder.

You can request a search of the exploration area to receive an overview of the land subject to the application. A search fee will apply.

Holders of an exploration licence seeking access to Crown land for prospecting purposes must provide:

  • a copy of the exploration licence (and, if available, copies of SDNs and REFs when category 2 or 3 activities are proposed)
  • a proposed draft access arrangement.

These documents should be forwarded to the department via:

A fact sheet has been developed to help exploration licence holders through the negotiation process.

Information to support negotiations for land access arrangements is available on the NSW Department of Planning & Environment, Resources & Energy website.