Landowner compensation for mining activities

Under the Mineral Resources Act 1989, landowners are entitled to compensation for the grant or renewal of mining leases and mining claims over their land.

The tenure can’t be granted or renewed until compensation is determined between the miner and any landowners.

Landowners include:

  • registered owners of freehold land
  • holders of land under a lease or occupancy granted by the Queensland Government (but not occupation rights under a permit under the Land Act 1994)
  • various entities with powers of management or control of specified reserves, leases or grants of land, e.g. Wet Tropics Management Authority.

Note: This page doesn’t deal with compensation for native title holders or claimants, only landowners.

Neither does it deal with compensation under the Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Act 2014 for land access, and the impacts of authorised activities under exploration permits, mineral development licences and petroleum and gas tenures.

What you can be compensated for

You have a right to claim compensation for:

  1. deprivation of possession of land surface area
  2. diminution of land value or any improvements
  3. diminution of the use made or which may be made of the land or any improvements on it
  4. severance of any part of the land from other parts of the land or from other land that the landholder owns
  5. any surface rights of access
  6. all loss or expense that arises as a consequence of the grant or renewal of the mining claim or mining lease
  7. all reasonable costs incurred or likely to be incurred in obtaining replacement land of a similar productivity, nature and area or to resettle yourself or to relocate your livestock or chattels on other parts of your land or on the replacement land, where it is necessary to do so
  8. any special value as a result of the current status and use of the land
  9. loss of profits
  10. an additional amount of no less than 10% of the aggregate amount determined under points 1–6 above to reflect the compulsory nature of the action.

See s. 281 and s. 85 of the Mineral Resources Act 1989 for further details.

Getting expert assistance

Seek advice from a range of sources, both professional and practical, including other landowners in the area who have undergone similar negotiations.

Valuers can help you assess the effect of mining activities on the value of your land. Lawyers can help you formulate, negotiate and present your claim for compensation.

Reaching agreement without court

Parties can negotiate their own compensation deal at any time, before or after an application is made to the court. If you do reach an agreement, it must be:

  • in writing signed by or on behalf of the parties;
  • submitted to the Office of State Revenue for duties assessment
  • lodged with the Department of Natural Resources and Mines.

In negotiating an agreement, you should prepare a property plan showing specific no-go zones on your property, the location of infrastructure (houses, sheds, bores, dams, roads, gates, grids, yards and fences), areas of pasture improvement and crop/livestock production cycles.

The agreement may include:

  • non-monetary and monetary compensation (with non-monetary compensation consisting of almost anything, such as the miner building or repairing fences on your property or installing gates and grids, etc.)
  • specific company requirements (e.g. washdowns and audits)
  • regular review periods for new impacts (remembering that the mining claim or lease term might be several years)
  • payments for your time—increased management and monitoring costs arising from mining activities
  • conditions about how and when compensation payments will be made.

The ability to include non-monetary compensation is a major advantage of negotiating an agreement outside the court process. The Land Court can make an award only in monetary terms.

Referral to the Land Court

If you can’t reach agreement, you or the miner can apply to the Department of Natural Resources and Mines to have the Land Court determine the compensation amount.

The department automatically refers a compensation issue to the Land Court for the grant of mining leases and claims if parties haven’t lodged a compensation agreement within three months of the events specified in:

  • s. 279(5) of the Mineral Resources Act 1989 (for mining leases)
  • s. 85(12) of the Mineral Resources Act 1989 (for mining claims).

Also see s. 279A and s. 85A, which state that the department must refer the issue of compensation for the renewal of mining leases and claims where compensation hasn’t been determined within three months after the end of the current term of the lease or claim.

What happens next

Once the matter is referred to the Land Court, you are invited to attend a preliminary conference before a judicial registrar or a member of the court.

A preliminary conference is an informal meeting convened between the parties to:

  • discuss the issue of compensation
  • identify the key issues
  • seek a resolution without a court hearing.

At a preliminary conference, you can meet with the miner and point out any features of your property that might affect compensation. Bring supporting documentation that may help explain your position, such as a property plan, maps, photos, etc.

If the parties reach agreement at the preliminary conference, the judicial registrar or member can make final orders ending the matter there.

If the parties can’t agree, the judicial registrar or member makes orders and directions about the further conduct of the proceedings and may set a timetable for the exchange of written submissions and expert evidence.

The court may list the matter for a formal hearing or decide to deal with the matter ‘on the papers’ (i.e. without a court hearing, based on the parties’ written evidence).

The Land Court’s determination

The Land Court can determine the amount of compensation payable and the terms, conditions and times of payment. The court can’t make orders for non-monetary compensation.

Later, you can apply to the Land Court to review the original compensation a material change in circumstances occurs, such as a different mining method that changes the impact of mining operations.

Searches

Search the Land Court’s compensation decisions.