Significant changes to Queensland’s land access and overlapping tenures regime have taken effect with the commencement of the Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Act 2014 (Qld) (MERCPA) on 27 September 2016.

The changes are part of major reforms to the regulation of Queensland’s resources industry over the last several years, involving numerous pieces of legislation and multiple rounds of industry consultation. For now, the MERCPA will operate in conjunction with the existing resources Acts in Queensland (including the Mineral Resources Act 1989 (Qld) and the Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004 (Qld)).

They key changes introduced under MERCPA, include:

  1. new priority and coordination rules for the grant and development of overlapping coal mining and petroleum resources, including a range of new notification requirements and timeframes;
  2. additional administrative obligations on resource authority holders with respect to landholder dealings, such as the requirement to register landholder agreements and the need to ensure that statutory notices and agreements comply with ‘prescribed requirements’ to be valid;
  3. increased landholder veto rights for particular resources activities on prescribed “restricted land”, aimed at protecting particular areas or features and agricultural infrastructure;
  4. the ability for landholders to “opt out” of the statutory land access negotiation process; and
  5. an expanded Land Court jurisdiction which will give the Land Court additional powers as to the determinations it can make and the matters it may take into consideration when determining land access disputes referred to the Land Court.