Right to negotiate

The right-to-negotiate (RTN) process allows you to reach agreement with the relevant native title parties about what can occur on the land and what compensation will be offered for any impacts.

The RTN process doesn't give a native title party the right to veto grants, but does ensure that parties negotiate in good faith.

Who can use this process?

The right-to-negotiate process is an option when applying for:

  • mining leases
  • mining claims
  • mineral development licences (that include bulk sampling in the work program)
  • exploration authorities for minerals or coal where significant land disturbance is proposed
  • authorities to prospect for petroleum
  • petroleum leases.

Find out more about native title process options.

Timeline and costs

The RTN process usually takes 9–12 months to complete from the notification day if negotiations are successful. It can take an extra 6 months if negotiations stall and the National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT) is asked to mediate or provide a determination.

There are advertising fees and other significant costs involved, including legal costs, attendance fees, venue hire, travel and accommodation expenses, and internal costs for the meetings. You may be also need to pay compensation to the native title parties.

RTN process summary

The RTN process involves the following steps:

  1. Making a submission to us to commence the RTN process.
  2. Contacting native title parties to share information and establish the willingness of parties to participate in the RTN process.
  3. Publication of a section 29 notice listing the notification day.
  4. Negotiation with native title parties.
  5. Agreement reached or NNTT intervention.

While the RTN process is being finalised, other application requirements can be completed, such as obtaining your environmental authority and payment of rent and financial assurance before the end of negotiations. This will ensure the permit can be decided as quickly as possible after the native title process is completed.

View our flow chart for the full RTN process (PDF, 60KB).

Step 1 - Submission

You must make a submission to help us initiate the RTN process for your application. Please contact us for advice before proceeding. Use the submission template and checklist (PDF, 738KB) and make sure you provide all the information requested to ensure your submission is processed as quickly as possible. This is usually lodged with your application together with the advertising fee.

Step 2 - Contact with native title parties

You should contact the relevant native title representative body (NTRB) for the application area and any registered native title claimants/holders to establish whether parties are willing to participate in RTN negotiations and if so how negotiations should proceed. Keep a record of your meetings for future reference.

For help determining the registered native title claimants/holders, contact the NNTT. You can contact us for help organising meetings and to have a government representative attend.

Step 3 - Publication of section 29 notice (notification day)

If the RTN submission is acceptable, we will give all affected parties written notice and publish a section 29 notice.

The notice will include a notification day, generally 3 weeks following the day of advertising. Any new native title claims must be lodged with the NNTT within 3 months of the notification day and claims must be registered within 4 months of the notification day.

If there are no registered native title claimants or holders at the end of the 4-month period, your application can proceed without further reference to native title.

Step 4 - Negotiation period

You must negotiate with any native title party that is registered over the application area at the end of the 4-month notification period.

The negotiation time frame is 6 months from the notification day, which incorporates the 4-month period during which relevant native title parties are identified and new claims registered.

The Queensland Government is considered a party to the RTN process. Our representative will attend negotiation meetings where possible and monitor the progress of negotiations. You must provide an update to the relevant native title negotiator about the negotiation progress at least every 3 months. This can be done either by phone or email.

At any time during the negotiation process, any party can seek mediation help from the NNTT.

Good faith

The law requires all parties to negotiate in good faith, that is with an open mind and a genuine desire to reach agreement.

Step 5 - agreement or mediation/determination

Section 31 and ancillary agreements

If negotiations are successful, the parties will sign a section 31 agreement or deed, also known as an RTN agreement, as well as an ancillary (private) agreement.

The section 31 deed contains basic facts about the agreement, is lodged with the NNTT and made publicly available. You can contact us to request a section 31 deed template. Once signed, this needs to be submitted to us to consider and execute, which will complete the native title process.

The ancillary agreement contains the confidential details of the agreement such as arrangements for land access, conduct and compensation, and the protection of native title rights and interests and cultural heritage. This confidential agreement is not usually submitted to the NNTT.

Mediation/determination by the NNTT

If parties don't reach an agreement after 6 months from the notification day and negotiations stall, any party can apply to the NNTT for mediation or a determination.

If it receives an application for a future act determination, the NNTT will conduct an inquiry and ask parties to provide evidence and make submissions. The NNTT will then decide whether the act can proceed and under what conditions.

The NNTT will not be able to make a determination however, if any of the parties claims that another has not negotiated in good faith. If the NNTT finds this to be true, negotiations must start again for another 6-month period. See the NNTT website for more information about good faith and future act determination applications.

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Small business hotline: 1300 654 687

General enquiries: 13 QGOV (13 74 68)