The Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Bill 2014 (Qld) was last night passed by the Queensland Parliament, and is awaiting royal assent (Common Provisions Act).
Importantly, a number of late key changes were made to the Bill prior to passing last night. The majority of these changes were made in response to stakeholder submissions, however there are many matters in respect of which submissions were made by industry (including minor matters of clarification to ensure the Common Provisions Act works as intended), that were not included in the amendments to the Bill.
The Common Provisions Act is step one of the "Modernising Queensland's Resources Act (MQRA) Program" to introduce standardised resources legislation in Queensland, which we have previously reported on.
The key aspects of the Common Provisions Act that will impact on the resources industry are:
- changes to the land access regime for resource authorities, including the restricted land regime;
- changes to notification and objection procedures for mining leases and environmental authorities; and
- a new overlapping coal and coal seam gas tenure framework (Overlapping Tenement Regime).
The key amendments made to the Bill in its passage through Parliament include:
- amendments to various aspects of the Overlapping Tenement Regime;
- the provisions relating to restricted land have been amended to confirm that, for production authorities, restricted land is determined from the date the application for the authority is made (rather than from the date of grant of the authority);
- landowners of adjoining properties to the land the subject of a mining lease application have the right to receive a copy of the application and the right to object to the grant of the mining lease on limited grounds;
- the Land Court may strike out an objection to a mining lease or environmental authority application in certain circumstances, including if it is frivolous or vexatious or outside of the Land Court's jurisdiction; and
- amendments to confirm that:
- a submitter cannot request that any part of a submission to an EIS that relates to a Coordinator-General's condition be taken to be an objection to the environmental authority application; and
- the grounds for an objection to an environmental authority cannot relate to a Coordinator-General's condition.
In what is the biggest change, the State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971 (Qld) is to be amended to provide that a submitter under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (Qld) to an environmental authority application may not request that its submission be taken to be an objection to the environmental authority application, if the Coordinator-General's report for the project states:
- conditions for the proposed environmental authority; and
- the Coordinator-General is satisfied the conditions adequately address the environmental effects of the mining activity.
This will mean that there cannot be any objection or Land Court hearing in relation to the environmental authority application.
The Common Provisions Act will commence on a date to be fixed by proclamation, which is expected to be later in the year after the regulations are finalised.
Stay tuned next week for our Insights articles about:
- an overview of the new Overlapping Tenement Regime as amended prior to passing of the Common Provisions Act; and
- what the resources industry should do to prepare itself for the commencement of the Common Provisions Act.