Objecting to mining projects
The Land Court hears objections to:
- the grant of a mining claim or lease under the Mineral Resources Act 1989
- an application or amendment application for environmental authorities issued for mining projects under the Environmental Protection Act 1994.
Making an objection
Any person can object to an application for a mining claim or mining lease or make a ‘submission’ (followed by an ‘objection’) about an associated environmental authority application.
Mining leases and claims
To object to mining leases and mining claims, lodge an objection with the Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM) (using the approved forms on the DNRM website).
Environmental authority application for a mine
To object to an environmental authority application for a mine, first make a submission about the application to the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) during the public notification process.
There is no set form for a submission, but it must meet requirements in the Environmental Protection Act 1994.
EHP will notify you of their decision. If they approve the application, they’ll send you a copy of a ‘draft environmental authority’ and a blank form called an ‘objection notice’. If you disagree with the draft environmental authority, you may object by completing the objection notice and sending it back to EHP.
Referral to the Land Court
DNRM and EHP automatically refer your objections to the Land Court for a hearing with all other objections. The Land Court hears all objections to the mining claim or lease, and associated environmental authority, at the same time.
You should seek legal and/or expert assistance when drafting objections, even if you intend to represent yourself in court. You can’t amend your objection once it’s referred to the Land Court.
Your case will be limited to the grounds of your objection. It should refer to the criteria that the Land Court must consider under the Mineral Resources Act 1989 and the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (see below).
The Land Court can strike out all or part of an objection if it’s:
- outside the jurisdiction of the Land Court
- frivolous or vexatious
- otherwise an abuse of process of the Land Court.
Services that may assist you include:
- Queensland Public Interest Law Clearing House (QPILCH)
- Community Legal Centres
- Environmental Defenders Office Qld (EDO Qld)
What happens next
After objections are referred to the Land Court, you receive notice of a directions hearing (a short court appearance setting out the timetable for the proceeding). The Court may also allocate a final hearing date.
The parties to the case will be you (the objector) and any other objectors, the mining company (the applicant) and EHP (the statutory party).
You may need to attend court-supervised mediation with the other parties to understand all objector concerns and identify possible solutions. Read about our ADR process.
Your level of participation
Not all objectors wish to fully participate in the hearing process. If so, you have two options for your level of participation (see practice direction 2015/03):
- Level 1: You rely on your written objection only and elect not to participate further in the court process (though you must attend the first directions hearing, but may be allowed to do so by telephone).
- Level 2: You participate fully in the court process and attend all hearings, and may call evidence, cross-examine witnesses and make final submissions.
To indicate your participation level, complete Form 10 - Objectors participation level in objections hearings under the Mineral Resources Act 1989 and/or the Environmental Protection Act 1994 and (DOC, 51KB).
Return the form to the Land Court as soon as possible and before the first directions hearing and forward a copy to the mining company.
If you don’t return a Form 10, you’ll be considered a level 2 objector.
To change your participation level, apply to the court no less than 28 days before the final hearing.
Withdrawing your objection
You may withdraw your objections to the mining lease and/or environmental authority any at time by writing to the court, the relevant government departments and the mining company.
Depending on the stage of the proceedings, the court may order you pay the costs of other parties in the proceedings.
What the Land Court considers
Mineral Resources Act 1989
When making a recommendation to the minister about a mining lease application, the Land Court must consider whether (under s. 269(4) of the Mineral Resources Act 1989):
- the provisions of the Act have been complied with
- the land applied for is mineralised or the other purposes for which the lease is sought are appropriate
- there will be an acceptable level of development and utilisation of the mineral resources within the area applied for
- the proposed lease is of an appropriate size and shape
- the term sought is appropriate
- the applicant has the necessary financial and technical resources
- the past performance of the applicant has been satisfactory
- any disadvantage may result to the rights of other applicants or holders of exploration permits or mineral development licences
- the operations to be carried on under the lease will conform with sound land use management
- there will be any adverse environmental impacts caused by the mining operations
- the public right and interest will be prejudiced
- any good reason has been shown for a refusal to grant the mining lease
- the proposed mining operation is an appropriate land use taking into consideration the current and prospective uses of the land.
For the grant of mining claims, see s. 78 of the Mineral Resources Act 1989.
Environmental Protection Act 1994
When making a recommendation to EHP about an environmental authority application, the Land Court must consider the following matters (under s. 191 of the Environmental Protection Act 1994):
- the application and related documents
- any standard conditions for the relevant activity or authority
- any draft environmental authority for the application
- any objection notice for the application
- any relevant regulatory requirement
- the standard criteria outlined in Schedule 4 of the Act
- the status of any application under the Mineral Resources Act for each relevant mining tenement.
The Land Court’s recommendation
After hearing all the evidence, the Land Court makes recommendations to the Minister for Natural Resources and Mines and EHP about the applications. The Land Court does not make a final decision.
The Minister for Natural Resources and Mines is responsible for approving the mining lease application and the Chief Executive Officer of EHP is responsible for approving the environmental authority applications.
The Land Court may recommend that the mining lease and/or environmental authority:
- not be granted
- be granted but with changes to the conditions of the EA or with conditions on the mining lease
- be granted without any changes.
There is no right of appeal to the Land Appeal Court if you’re dissatisfied with the court’s recommendation because a recommendation is an administrative function rather than a judicial function.
However, once the Minister for Natural Resources and Mines and/or the Chief Executive of EHP makes a final decision on the mine, you can apply to the Supreme Court for a review under the Judicial Review Act 1991.