The Government has continued with its overhaul of the legislative regime for petroleum and minerals with the recent release of the draft Minerals Programme for Petroleum and the draft Minerals Programme for Minerals (excluding Petroleum) ("Programmes") by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.  The draft Programmes can be found here and here.

The draft Programmes set out how the Minister of Energy and Resources, the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals will apply the Crown Minerals Act 1991 ("Act"), if amended as proposed by the Crown Minerals (Permitting and Crown Land) Bill ("Bill").  They cover matters such as the methods for allocating permits, the management of permits, the obligations of permit holders and changes to permits. 

The purpose statement in the Act states:

The purpose of this Act is to promote prospecting for, exploration for, and mining of Crown owned minerals for the benefit of New Zealand, by providing for—

1.the efficient allocation of rights to prospect for, explore for, and mine Crown owned minerals; and

2.the effective management and regulation of the exercise of those rights; and

3. a fair financial return to the Crown for its minerals.

The phrase, "For the benefit of New Zealand" has been interpreted by the Minister to be the over-arching objective and the "touch-stone" for interpreting the rest of the purpose statement and the Act.  The Minister considers that "for the benefit of New Zealand" is best achieved by increasing New Zealand's economic wealth through maximising the economic recovery of New Zealand's mineral resources.

As the draft Programmes show how the Act will be implemented and provide further explanation of some points, the Bill and the draft Programmes should be read together when undertaking any review.   

Submissions on the draft Programmes can be made to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and are due by 5pm 5 December 2012.

Two further discussion papers have also been released for public consultation, which cover proposed changes to the royalty regime and taxation of the mining sector.  You can view the discussion papers here and here. These proposed changes will also be of interest to the mining industry.  Submissions on these discussion papers close on 7 December 2012.