Default arrangements for overlapping tenures
As a minimum, overlapping resource authority holders must comply with the mandatory requirements. They can also agree to a range of alternative arrangements in addition to these requirements.
If no alternative arrangements are agreed to, then the default arrangements apply, as set out in Chapter 4 of the Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Act 2014 (MERCP Act).
Right of way for coal
The holder of the mining lease for coal has right of way in the overlapping area and can establish areas of sole occupancy.
Areas of sole occupancy are those areas where the holder of the mining lease for coal can carry out any authorised activity and the overlapping authority to prospect for coal seam gas (CSG) or petroleum lease for CSG cannot carry out any authorised activity.
Areas of sole occupancy are defined as:
- initial mining area (IMAs) - an area identified by the mining lease holder as the minimum area required for 10 years of safe mining
- rolling mining areas (RMAs) - areas identified by the mining lease holder as the minimum area required for 1 year of safe mining.
To establish sole occupancy, the mining lease holder must notify the overlapping petroleum authority holder within the required notice periods set under Part 2 of the MERCP Act.
Where required, the mining lease holder may have to compensate the overlapping petroleum authority holder.
Mining commencement dates
For each area of sole occupancy, the mining lease holder must identify a date when activities will start.
The mining commencement date for an IMA must be:
- if the overlapping authority is an authority to prospect for CSG, at least 18 months after the date on which the advance notice for the mining lease for coal was given
- if the overlapping authority is a petroleum lease for CSG, at least 11 years after the date on which the advance notice for the mining lease for coal was given.
The mining commencement date for an RMA must be:
- for the first RMA, at least 10 years after the mining commencement date for the IMA to which the RMA is contiguous
- for each subsequent RMA, at least 1 year after the mining commencement date for the immediately preceding RMA.
Amending commencement dates
The commencement date can be amended through:
- agreement in writing to change the date
- an exceptional circumstances notice (MERCP Act s. 127)
- an acceleration notice (MERCP Act s. 128)
- certain petroleum production notices (MERCP Act s. 142A)
- certain overlapping tenure arrangements that were transitioned into the new framework (MERCP Act s. 241A)
Simultaneous operation zones
A simultaneous operations zone (SOZ) can be established in an overlapping area contiguous with an IMA or RMA if safety and health arrangements for the co-existence of the overlapping authorities are considered necessary.
The overlapping authorities have joint occupancy in the SOZ from the commencement date for the IMA or RMA.