Legal development

Timeline released for review of mining lease objections process

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    Key insights

    • The Queensland Law Reform Commission has commenced its long-awaited review into mining lease objections processes.
    • The focus of the Commission will be on processes to decide contested applications for mining leases under the Mineral Resources Act 1989 (Qld) and associated environmental authorities under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (Qld).
    • Final recommendations are expected by 30 June 2025. A consultation paper will be released by May 2024, with submissions open until July 2024.

    Queensland Law Reform Commission's review of mining lease objections processes

    The Queensland Law Reform Commission has commenced its long-awaited review into mining lease objections processes. The Commission received its Terms of Reference from the Attorney-General in April 2023, following the appointment of the current President of the Land Court of Queensland Fleur Kingham as Chair of the Commission.

    The focus of the Commission will be on processes to decide contested applications for mining leases under the Mineral Resources Act 1989 (Qld) (MRA) and associated environmental authorities under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (Qld). However, it will also consider whether any recommendations should apply to production tenures for resource activities that fall outside the scope of the MRA (for example, petroleum leases granted under the Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004 (Qld)), as well as the implications of the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld) and the Judicial Review Act 1991 (Qld) in objections processes.

    The Commission recognises the many interests that must be considered in making recommendations for future reform, including facilitating sustainable growth in resource projects, protecting the environment, cultural heritage, agricultural, community and landowner interests. The review comes in the wake of last year's landmark decision by President Kingham in Waratah Coal Pty Ltd v Youth Verdict Ltd & Ors (No 6) [2022] QLC 21 that applications for both a mining lease and environmental authority be refused on environmental, climate change and human rights grounds. We discuss the impact of that case in the context of mining lease objections processes in our Queensland Land Access and Resource Approvals Year in Review 2023 article "Human rights in the resources space".

    The timeline released by the Commission indicates its final recommendations will be given to the Government by 30 June 2025. So far, two background papers have been released which provide information on relevant topics to the review. A consultation paper will be released by May 2024, with submissions open until July 2024.

    Authors: Libby McKillop, Counsel; and Lydia O'Neill, Paralegal.

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