Joint development plans for overlapping resource authorities
When a mining lease for coal and petroleum lease for coal seam gas (CSG) overlap, an agreed joint development must be in place that details arrangements within the overlapping area. This is one of the mandatory requirements that apply to overlapping resource authorities.
Once the plan is in place, the parties must comply with the plan as a condition of their resource authority and can only carry out authorised activities in the overlapping area if the activity is consistent with the agreed joint development plan.
The agreed joint development plan must be in place:
- for a mining lease for coal application made over an existing petroleum lease for CSG: 12 months after the mining lease holder provides an advanced notice to the petroleum lease holder
- for a petroleum lease application made over an existing mining lease for coal: 12 months after the petroleum lease holder provides a petroleum production notice to the mining lease holder.
If a matter is referred to arbitration, then the time frame to have an agreed plan in place changes to 9 months after the appointment of an arbitrator.
It is the responsibility of the holders of overlapping resource authorities to ensure that a plan is in place and to notify the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (see below for notification requirements).
Consistency with initial and later development plans
Parties to the joint development plan must ensure that the plan is consistent with any initial or later development plan.
Content of joint development plans
The plan must include the following:
- identification of the overlapping tenure holders
- overview of the proposed activities by both resource authority holders, including locations and start dates
- identification of any initial mining area (IMA) and rolling mining area (RMA) and their mining commencement dates
- identification of any simultaneous operation zones (SOZ)
- statement on how the activities will optimise the development and use of the state's coal and CSG resources
- period for which the joint development plan has effect.
If steel casing is to be used to drill or complete a petroleum well or bore in the overlapping area, then an agreement must be included about the removal or retention of the steel casing when the well or bore is abandoned (see s. 54(2)(b) of the Petroleum and Gas (Safety) Regulation 2018).
An agreed joint development plan can apply to more than 1 overlapping area.
The plan can be amended by agreement at any time. If agreement cannot be reached, the proposed amendment can be submitted to arbitration.
Agreed joint development plan
The holders of overlapping resource authorities must notify the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy within 20 business days of finalising the joint development plan. The notice must include the following:
- statement that the agreed joint development plan is in place
- period for which the agreed joint development plan has effect
- map that shows
- each of the resource authorities, including their identifying number
- each overlapping area to which the plan applies
- statement about how the activities carried out will optimise the development and use of the state's coal and CSG resources
- statement about whether the agreed joint development plan has been prepared in accordance with the statutory requirements.
A single notice can be given relating to several agreed joint development plans.
Changes to joint development plan
If an agreed amendment results in a significant increase or decrease (including cessation) of production or mining, then both resource authority holders must jointly give written notice to the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy within 20 business days of making the amendment. The notice must include the following:
- statement that the agreed joint development plan has been amended
- if there is a cessation or significant reduction of an authorised activity for a resource authority, a statement about whether the
- cessation or reduction is reasonable in the circumstances
- resource authority holders have taken all reasonable steps to prevent the cessation or reduction.