Land access arrangement costs
The Mining Act 1992 requires the holder of an exploration licence or assessment lease (collectively termed ‘prospecting titles’) to pay the reasonable costs of a landholder’s participation to reach a land access arrangement. These costs relate to the landholder’s time, legal and expert costs. This requirement to pay costs applies to formal negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and at Land and Environment Court hearings (if required).
Caps have been set on the reasonable costs payable at negotiation. These are:
- $1,500 (ex GST) for exempt prospecting operations
- $2,500 (ex GST) for assessable prospecting operations.
The explorer must pay the GST amount in addition to the landholder’s capped costs.
An explorer can voluntarily pay the landholder more than these caps.
Mediation, arbitration and the LEC
An explorer must pay the reasonable costs of the landholder during mediation, arbitration and the LEC (if required). No cap has been set on these costs.
Costs payable by the explorer are determined by the arbitrator or by the court. A landholder’s conduct can be considered when determining the costs and there is a requirement under the legislation for both parties to act in good faith.
Under the legislation, evidence must be presented to the explorer to show that the costs have been incurred.
Cost of an arbitrator
The explorer must pay the costs of an arbitrator. The department acts as an intermediary for payments to panel arbitrators.
Compensation payments are separate to the requirement for explorers to pay the landholder’s reasonable costs in reaching a land access arrangement.
Land access arrangements can include compensation to landholders for exploration activities on their land. In addition, title holders are also required to pay landholders compensation for any ‘compensable loss’ as defined in s.262 of the Mining Act 1992, for loss or damage incurred in situations which are not covered in access arrangements.