You might have received an entry notice from a mining or exploration company proposing to carry out preliminary activities on your property such as scouting or flora and fauna investigations. This might have already occurred and now the company wants to undertake advanced exploration activities such as seismic surveying or core hole drilling. Alternatively, things might have progressed beyond that and now actual mining is proposed on your property.
In any of these situations, and whether you perceive the company’s interest in your land as an opportunity or a threat, it is crucially important that you are aware of your rights. Shine’s Energy and Resources Team are “at the coal face” of resource exploration and mining issues and are experts in assisting landholders through the complicated process of negotiating and dealing with exploration and mining companies.
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Common questions about Mining Legal Services
The law surrounding exploring and mining and access to private and other land can be extremely complex.
Your land is likely to be one of, if not, the most important assets you own. The effects of exploring and mining can be long lasting and devastating to a landholder and having someone who knows your rights and those rights and obligations of companies can be critical to preserving and possibly even enhancing the value of your asset and rights.
For example, do you know which parts of your land you can say no to an explorer entering to look for coal or a miner getting a mining lease over?
Shine’s Energy and Resources Team are able to advise you in this regard and such advice might change the whole flavor of your negotiations.
As further example, if a mining company proposes to actually undertake mining, you as a concerned citizen generally or as a concerned landholder, have certain rights including rights to make submissions relating to Environmental Impact Statements, object to an application for a mining lease and environmental authority and in the case of a landowner to compensation but timing can be critical in some instances.
Shine’s Energy and Resources Team have represented and advised many landholders and others on these issues.
Also if an exploration company has been granted a tenement that authorizes it to carry out exploration activities on your land, you may sooner or later need to enter into a conduct and compensation agreement (CCA) with the company.
You have a statutory right to know what activities the company plans to undertake on your land and when and where they will be carried out and to be compensated for those activities. In some cases you may even have a statutory right to prevent or reduce the activities on your property.
When a company is proposing to explore on your land it will likely state it has a “standard” CCA for you to sign. There is no “standard” CCA.
Even the Government “standard” CCA is only a template that the government expects will be adapted to each Landholder’s situation. It goes without saying that no two properties are the same and no two CCAs will therefore be the same.
You need to know what should be included in your agreement to ensure the unique features of your land are addressed and you are compensated appropriately.
Shine’s Energy and Resources Team will help you understand the law, what are your rights and the company’s rights and obligations and what should be included in any agreement you might have with the company. We have the experience that will help us understand you and your land and in turn our knowledge will empower you.
It will help you to deal with the companies on a better footing and to negotiate a better outcome whether that is in terms of the company’s conduct when accessing your land, the amount of compensation you receive or otherwise.
Exploration is usually a precursor to actual mining occurring on your land and because of that many landholders are likely to be familiar with the term conduct and compensation agreement or CCA.
It is therefore worth making special mention of CCAs.
A CCA is a legally binding contract between you and the exploration company. An exploration company cannot enter your land to undertake ‘advanced’ exploration activities unless a conduct and compensation agreement has been agreed with you or the matter referred to Court.
A comprehensive agreement is crucial to ensure you maximize the amount of compensation you receive as a result of the impact of exploration activities on your land. A conduct and compensation will also dictate how those activities are to be undertaken so the impact to your business, your land use, your family and your lifestyle is minimized. In fact, the terms of the agreement are often more important than the amount of compensation you receive.
The inclusions in your agreement will depend on the types of activities you conduct on your land. For example only the following are some things you might consider for your CCA are:
- Access periods – times when it is reasonable for the exploration company to carry out activities on your land or the duration of the activities;
- Access points, roads and tracks – restrictions on where the exploration company can go on your land and what tracks they can use and how they are to maintain them;
- Your home and other buildings – how close to your home and farm buildings activities can be performed;
- Livestock and property – conditions for conduct around livestock and the manner and timeframe for repairing any damage caused to your property;
- Camps – location and management plan of any camps that the exploration company intends to establish on your land;
- Fencing – around all infrastructure that might be damaged by or harmful to your livestock;
- Rehabilitation – any specific requirements you might have regarding rehabilitation including any seed mix you might require;
- Weeds – what precautions the exploration company might need to take to ensure weeds are not introduced or spread on your land;
- Compensation – payments to you for the range of activities to be performed on your land or “in kind” works that might be beneficial to you.
You might also require some special legal terms in your agreement such as what the compensation does not cover or to be further compensated in the event additional loss is suffered by you than was originally contemplated.
Often the CCA presented to a landholder will superficially look good but as they say the “devil is usually in the detail” or lack of it often and it will not be until a trained eye looks at the agreement issues will become apparent.
It is important to engage a lawyer as early as possible in the negotiation process to assist you and ensure that all issues relating to the exploration or mining company’s conduct on your land are considered and an appropriate approach to dealing with the matter is put in place. This will safeguard your rights.
We have found time and again if a lawyer is engaged late in the negotiation process it is often difficult to convince the exploration company to change anything in the agreement that you might later require to be changed after consulting with your lawyer.
The exploration company will often see these changes or concerns not as yours but as your lawyer’s or you might have unwittingly locked yourself into a position that is difficult to backtrack on or time might have run against you to require further changes.
The amount of compensation you receive from the exploration company will depend on many things including the extent of the exploration activity proposed, the particular nature of your land and business and the length of time the activities will last.
In essence, the exploration company is required to compensate you for any activities carried out on your land that will have an impact on your ability to use the land or conduct your business. The legislation dictates that you should receive compensation for activities that result in the following:
- Deprivation or possession of land surface;
- Reduction in land value;
- Severance of land from other parts of the land owned by the landholder;
- Reduction in land use, including reduced use that could be made through any improvements to it;
- Any cost, damage, or loss arising from activities carried out under the land surface;
- Damages caused to the landholder as a consequence of matters mentioned above.
The legal principles concerning compensation are complex – as are the potential ramifications for you in the areas of taxation, social security, estate planning and others.
Shine’s Energy and Resources Team will be able to help you negotiate an agreement that ensures the exploration company fairly and comprehensively compensates you for all the activities they conduct on your land and to get the best outcome for you overall.
The same would apply with respect to assisting you with respect to compensation for mining on your land.
The land access laws allow for compensation to be recovered for legal costs necessarily and reasonably incurred to negotiate and prepare a CCA. This means that exploration companies are now required by law to compensate you for the costs associated with engaging a lawyer.
Your legal costs will be determined by the amount of work required to prepare your agreement and whether you will require further advice regarding future activities on your property.
We’ll be happy to go through this in more detail when you first meet with us.
Apart from negotiation of a fair and effective CCA, Shine’s Energy and Resources Team can assist you in relation to most things relating to mining including:
- Compensation agreements with mining companies;
- Property sale agreements to mining companies;
- Options to purchase or sell your property to mining companies;
- Objections to applications for mining leases, environmental authorities and water licences;
- Leasing or licencing back from mining companies;
- Land Court Applications and hearings;
- Non-compliance issues by mining companies;
- Water and gravel contracts;
- Appeals and submissions on mining lease related applications eg submissions on environmental impact statements;
- Make Good Agreements for water;
- Royalty agreements;
- Share options;
Exploration and mining experts – Unlike most law firms, we have a specialist team of energy and resource law experts whose only job is to assist landholders through the complex process of negotiating with companies in the energy and resources arena such as companies exploring for coal and minerals, mining coal and minerals, undertaking exploration for and production of coal seam gas and installing powerlines.
As we were one of the first firms in Queensland to identify a need to stand up for landholder’s rights, our Energy and Resources Team are now leading authorities on this relatively new area of law.
We will leave no stone unturned in ensuring your rights are protected.
Rural background – Some of our most senior lawyers in our Energy and Resources Team are rural property owners, we can back up the claim that we have the experience to be able to understand your business.
Our thorough knowledge of farming issues, property values and the exploration and mining industry ensures we have the right mix of experience to negotiate the best possible outcome for you and your family.
Big firm reputation – Our Energy and Resources Team’s rural background, experience in the energy and resources area coupled with Shine Lawyers’ big firm reputation means that we are in the unique position to balance the odds against the exploration and mining companies.
Advocacy work – Since the establishment of the coal seam gas industry and the booming of the coal mining and exploration industry in recent times in QLD, Shine’sEnergy and Resources Team have been vocal advocates for the rights of land holders and rural communities increasingly being affected by the impacts of coal seam gas and coal mining and exploration.
Through government lobbying and creating awareness via the media, we are striving to make coal seam gas and coal mining and exploration laws fairer for landholders in this rapidly expanding space.
Peter Shannon – Peter Shannon heads up our Energy and Resources Team. As part-owner of a farm situated near Kupunn to the west of Dalby, Peter has been directly affected by coal seam gas issues.
Peter has advised hundreds of landholders in relation to coal seam gas issues and has extensive experience in the negotiation of Conduct and Compensation Agreements, Options and Easements and rural matters in general including litigation, conveyancing, leasing, water licensing and business structuring.
Peter has also been extensively involved in the community lobbying for the rights of landholders generally, was instrumental in the creation of the Basin Sustainability Alliance.
Glen Martin – is an associate in our Energy and Resources Team and has over 15 years’ experience acting for rural clients.
He has a rural background and extensive property valuation knowledge having studied a Bachelor of Business in Real Property Valuation and Administration.
Glen was the Senior Lawyer with Legal Aid Queensland for over 4 years and established its mining legal service at a critical time for landholders and exclusively assisted landholders affected by the coal seam gas industry and the coal exploration and mining industry. He was comprehensively involved in advocating for landholder rights while in that position.
He has extensive legal experience involving the mix of rural and mining matters such as options to purchase, sale and lease back arrangements and easements.
Joshua Aylward– is Special Counsel in our Energy and Resources Team and has over 10 years’ experience acting for Landholders in both Queensland and New South Wales.
With extensive experience in dealing with energy companies, Joshua represents landholders in negotiations and mediations from the initial exploration stages, right through to full production developments.
He has strong rural ties and is aware of the special legal needs of country clients and tailors his assistance accordingly. He also has extensive legal experience involving the rural mining mix such as undertaking complex conveyancing, share options and leasing.
We also have many other specialist staff that may be of assistance including those specialising in conveyancing and leasing.
Shine Lawyers are expert mining lawyers that can help you stand up for your rights as a landholder. Click the below for more information about the Shine Lawyers service and how we can help you.
Shine Lawyers have offices in the following locations.
New South Wales
- Gold Coast
- Hervey Bay
- North Lakes
- Stones Corner
- Sunshine Coast
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