Seminar delves into nuances of mining for clarity

By Andrew Goode

I apologise to readers for writing again about the Mining Act but I believe mining and its impact on agriculture is of real concern to farmers in South Australia, even if they do not have any current exploration or proposed mining on their land.  

Mining is clearly something that both Liberal and Labor are promoting strongly as an industry which can potentially provide huge benefits to all South Australians.  It is unlikely that the push to promote mining will change in the future, particularly bearing in mind the demise of the local car industry.

As most readers know, the minerals (with a few exceptions) in the land are owned by the State Government unlike the United States.  

Land owners are entitled to compensation pursuant to either the Land Acquisition Act or the Mining Act (depending on the way in which the land is acquired or accessed) with the aim of compensating the land owner fully for their loss.  In practice, this does not always happen for reasons I have outlined in previous articles.  If any reader wants a copy of my previous articles please feel free to contact us.

For most land owners when they receive a notice of entry for exploration it is a cause of concern and angst, as the land owner will naturally worry about the impact on their farm.

Recently I presented at a seminar on the impact of mining at Rudall in the Eyre Peninsula along with my partner Joe Anderson, and a former Mining Warden, and now Barrister, Pat Amey.

We presented in relation to how mining companies develop their projects, the way in which they enter onto the land owner’s land, the right to compensation, and how that compensation might be calculated, as well as case examples of land owners’ dealings with the Courts in the past.

Mr Amey, in his analysis of past cases noted that generally when matters relating to exempt land (such as cropping land) have come before the Warden’s Court it has considered a combination of compensation and conditions when allowing a miner entry to farmland, except where the conditions will not be sufficient to safeguard the farmland.  As Mr Amey noted, it will be interesting to see how the Environment Resources and Development Court will deal with these issues now that it has jurisdiction to deal with land which is exempt from mining other than by agreement or Court order.  

The seminar was well attended and provided the opportunity for us to answer many questions related to mining, although some of the attendees probably went away with more questions than answers but hopefully they had a better understanding of the way in which the process works.

DMITRE also provides material on their website in relation to how the mining process works, and the rights and obligations of both miners and land owners, which can be a useful starting point when considering a landowner’s rights.

Also in attendance at the seminar were two State parliamentarians which illustrates the importance those Parliamentarians placed on mining and its impact on the farming community.  I have deliberately not identified them however so as to retain a non political approach so close to an election.  

I do think however that whichever party gains control there ought to be a further review of the Mining Act, to consider whether the 2011 amendments have had any real impact.

Whoever is in power will certainly have a difficult balancing act, not helped by the loss of car manufacturing in our State.  


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