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An exploration licence (EL) is the principal title issued for exploration in the state of South Australia

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An exploration licence (EL) authorises the licensee, subject to the Mining Act 1971, Regulations made under the Act and conditions of the licence, to explore for all minerals and/or opal other than extractive minerals (i.e. building construction materials). An EL excludes current mining tenements (mineral claims, retention leases and mining leases) and any other areas not available for exploration (wilderness areas, certain parks, Mining Act reserves, coastlines etc.).

Tenement information/SARIG

Information about current mineral tenements is available via the South Australian Resources Information Gateway (SARIG).

SARIG can be used to:

  • Identify ground open for exploration licence application
  • Download exploration data and reports
  • Apply online for new exploration licences and renewals
  • Track the processing status of an EL application
  • Download mineral exploration application/licence reports M01, M02, M03, M04 (see below)
  • Download and print state maps (updated daily) including:
    • Mineral exploration tenement applications
    • Mineral exploration licences
    • Mineral exploration release areas
    • Mineral production tenements
    • Land access considerations e.g. Parks, Aboriginal Land, Defence Lands etc.
Information about mineral exploration licence applications, licences, licence holders and exploration release areas is published in the following information sheets:

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ELA status bar

The current status of submitted exploration licence applications can be tracked with the exploration licence application (ELA) status bar.

The Application Status widget in SARIG (the South Australian Resources Information Gateway) allows users to view the current status of an application lodgement and track its progress from when it was received and validated by the Department through to the application outcome.

More about using the Mineral exploration applications (ELA) status bar

Launch the SARIG application to go to the ELA status bar. From the drop down menu go to Mineral tenements > Exploration tenements > Administrative eTools > View exploration licence application status

Additional features include:

  • Start and end dates for each stage of the process, including target completion dates for steps not completed
  • If consultation or approval is required from other government agencies, including start and end dates
  • If additional information is requested from the applicant
  • If the assessment has been delayed due to a specific issue such as land access or environmental aspects

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Exploration release areas (ERAs)

An expired, fully surrendered or cancelled mineral exploration licence (EL) area may be released to industry as an ‘exploration release area’ (ERA).  An ERA is released for a minimum four-week moratorium period after which it is open for application for one week only from Monday to Friday immediately following the moratorium period.  Applications over an ERA will be assessed against a predefined set of assessment criteria outlined in Regulatory Guideline’ MG17: Applying for mineral exploration release areas (ERAs) in South Australia’ and also provided in the standard application Form 29ERA. It is recommended that anyone considering applying for an ERA familiarise themselves with the ERA requirements as discussed in the MG17 and the Information Sheet ‘M05: Mineral Exploration Licences – General conditions, procedures and information.’

Applications for an ERA can only be made during the Application Week, the dates for which are published on the Department website (Public Notices page) and on SARIG. Valid applications received during the application week will be assessed via a competitive process rather than on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.

Following the closure of the Application Week:

  • If no valid applications are received the area will revert to vacant/open ground
  • If one valid application is received, it will be processed via established ELA procedures
  • If multiple valid applications are received these will be assessed by the Mineral Exploration Assessment Panel

In broad terms, applying for an ERA is a three-step process:

  1. Select the desired ERA. The application must be for the whole ERA area.
  2. Prepare the ERA application - online via SARIG or complete Form 29ERA, Mineral exploration release area application (don’t forget to check the Public Notices page for any Specific Criteria to be addressed)
  3. Submit the application – online via SARIG or via Form 29ERA. Where submission is via Form 29ERA (not on SARIG) mark application: “Attention: Mineral Tenements – ERA application” and lodge during the application week either by email, post, delivery (courier or in person).  The application must be accompanied by a map of the ERA and the prescribed fee(s).

For certain ERAs the Department may request that additional aspects be specifically addressed as part of the ERA application. For example, this may relate to the location of the ERA in a Park, Aboriginal Land or artesian groundwater basin, or a specific technical aspect considered important by the Department.

The requirement for any ERA specific criteria to be addressed will be identified in Section I of the SARIG ERA application, or can be found in the 'Areas Released Table' under the Exploration Public Notices on this website.

Notification of the progress and eventual outcome of an ERA application will be advised in writing by the Department throughout the process.

Information Sheet M53 Mineral exploration release areas (ERAs) – status report (PDF) (real-time updates) also provides information on the details, processing status and applicants for an ERA.

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Exploration licence application (ELA)

Companies must have a registered office in Australia before applying for an EL. A person may apply for an EL on behalf of another party provided they have appropriate authorisation from the tenement holder.

Notices of applications for which the Minister for Energy and Mining proposes to grant an Exploration Licence, including applicant, location, pastoral lease affected, plans and coordinates, are made available on the minerals website, in addition to publication in local and regional newspapers.

Apart from Exploration Release Areas, applications are treated on a first-come, first-served basis. If two or more valid applications arrive for the same area on the same day, the applicants may be asked to provide additional information to support their application. At which time applications will be assessed using the same criteria as Exploration Release Areas to determine the successful applicant.

Information Sheet M05: Mineral Exploration Licenses – General Conditions, procedures and information (PDF) and Requirements for exploration licence applications under section 29 of the Mining Act 1971 (PDF) provide details of the information required to be submitted to support an exploration licence application. Whilst the Department will, if necessary, elaborate on the list of requirements and explain further what documentation will meet each criteria, it is ultimately the applicant’s responsibility to support their application. If an applicant is unable to do so within a reasonable time after submitting the application, their application will be refused. Applications for an Exploration licence may be lodged via SARIG or using Form 29 Mineral exploration licence: application/renewal.

An applicant for an EL is required to:

  1. Submit the application through SARIG, in person, by facsimile or by email using Form 29 – Mineral Exploration Licence application
  2. Attach a map delineating the area sought. The area should not exceed 1000 km2 unless special circumstances justify the granting of a larger area.  The approval of the Minister/delegate is required in such cases.
  3. Pay the application fee at the time of lodgement.
  4. Nominate the principal minerals sought.
  5. Submit a proposed program of exploration with phased and costed expenditure which will effectively target the mineral(s) and exploration model(s) sought. The minimum expenditure requirement is nominally $30,000 plus $97/km2 per year and rounded to the nearest $5,000.
  6. Provide a statement of the financial resources available to the applicant supported by acceptable evidence. Financial resources can be any combination of debt, equity or cash. The evidence may be in any form, but it must clearly demonstrate the existence of the financial resource, its availability to the applicant and be no more than 6-months old. The possibility that an applicant might be able to obtain financial resources after the grant of an EL is not acceptable evidence. For additional details refer to Information Sheet M05: Mineral Exploration Licenses – General Conditions, procedures and information (PDF) or  Requirements for exploration licence applications under section 29 of the Mining Act 1971 (PDF)
  7. Provide evidence of available and appropriately experienced technical personnel capable of carrying out the proposed exploration. Acceptable evidence includes the names, qualifications and experience of employees, contractors or consultants who will be responsible for implementing the proposed exploration program.

Note: Additional information is required when applying for an exploration release area (ERA)

Subsequent exploration licence application

An EL can have a maximum term of 5 years, after which time a new application for the area may be lodged using Form 29 – Mineral Exploration Licence application - or by applying on-line through SARIG (South Australian Resources Information Gateway).

Favourable consideration will be given to the granting of a subsequent EL over the same area, or a reduced area, when a licensee has satisfactorily fulfilled all obligations of the previous EL.

A subsequent application must be lodged at least three months prior to expiry of the existing EL. Applications received after this date are considered late and may attract fees. If an application for a subsequent EL is not determined before the date of expiry, the EL is deemed to continue in force until the application is determined. If granted the new licence will commence on the day after the expiry of the previous licence.

As well as the requirements detailed under the ELA section above, an application for a subsequent EL also requires:

  1. Information on the exploratory operations and expenditure versus commitment for the previous EL.
  2. A proposed scheme of exploration with a statement of the proposed expenditure no less than double the prevailing rate of commitment for the previous EL.

Exploration licence renewal

Where the licensee seeks a renewal of term (within the maximum term of 5 years), an application for renewal must be lodged a minimum of one month prior to expiry of the EL. Applications received after this date, but before the Expiry Date are considered late. A late lodgment is subject to the holder seeking Ministerial Consent as a separate written submission to the Department providing reasons as to why the application was late, and may attract fees. Failure to make application prior to the expiry date will result in the EL being expired. Renewal applications cannot be accepted after the Expiry Date. Applications for renewal may be lodged via SARIG (from the drop down menu go to Mineral tenements > Exploration tenements > Exploration licence applications > Apply for an exploration licence renewal or subsequent licence) or using Form 29 Mineral exploration licence: application/renewal. An automated reminder facility is available to licensees who have a registered email address with the Department.

Email reminder for exploration licence renewal and reporting

To make managing exploration licences easier, the Department will send courtesy email reminders of upcoming exploration licence expiry and reporting requirements.

Type of licenceEmail reminder sent
Exploration licence expiry60 days prior to expiry
Subsequent exploration licence expiry120 days prior to expiry
Exploration licence annual expenditure report60 days prior to the due date
Exploration licence compliance & technical reports

60 days prior to the due date

  • Reminders will be sent to the contact point nominated by the tenement holder.
  • Emails reminders are automatically generated and no registration is required for this service.
  • For EL expiry notification enquiries contact the Exploration Officer on +61 8 8429 2545
  • For report reminder notification enquiries contact the Reporting Officer on +61 8 8429 2587

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Amalgamated Expenditure Arrangement (AEA)

Companies exploring in South Australia on a project basis over a significant number/area of ELs can apply to the Department for an Amalgamated Expenditure Arrangement (AEA). If approved, an AEA amalgamates the expenditure commitments for a group of exploration licences such that the combined total expenditure commitment may be spent anywhere within the tenement group rather than being restricted to specific amounts being spent on individual ELs. This flexibility provides benefits to both companies and the State through allowing companies to focus their exploration efforts on targets with the greatest potential for future development while keeping all exploration licences in good standing under the Mining Act 1971. The trade-off for this expenditure flexibility over a large project area is that a mandatory area reduction is required (generally a 10% reduction from the combined tenement area annually).

For a tenement group to be considered for amalgamation of expenditure commitments certain criteria are considered. This includes but is not limited to:

  • 100% ownership or majority shareholding in tenements
  • Suitable project wide exploration program and commodity targets
  • Contiguous or nearly contiguous tenements
  • Sufficiently sized (3 or more licences covering more than 1500 km2)
  • Tenements in good standing regarding all compliance issues

For a tenement group to be considered for amalgamation of expenditure commitments or to renew an existing amalgamated expenditure arrangement complete the required sections of the Amalgamated Expenditure Arrangement Template and submit to

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Any acquisition of interests in an EL by other parties, or agreements in relation to a future acquisition of interest (joint venture, transfers etc.) require the consent of the Ministers/Delegate after disclosure of all considerations involved.

An application for consent must be lodged with the Department and accompanied by the prescribed fee. While each case is examined on its merits, certain general rules guide the policy adopted by the Minister/Delegate, as follows:

  • Approval will generally not be given to transfers of interest until at least one year of exploration over the area by a licensee has elapsed and the obligations for that year have been adequately met.
  • All applications for transfer must be supported by evidence of the transferee’s financial and technical/operational capability to carry out the ongoing exploration work program. For information on what constitutes financial and technical/operational capability, please refer to points 5 and 6 in M05 Mineral exploration licences - General conditions, procedures and information.
  • An interest may be earned by another party through the performance of work of a value agreed to by the licensee, provided that no cash or share transfer consideration is involved exceeding the value of work actually performed on an area by the licensee.
  • Where a licensee wishes to promote a public company to take over an EL as the whole or part of its objectives, the total consideration to the licensee, either in cash or shares, shall not exceed the cost of the work performed, including the cost of the investigation of any tenements granted pursuant to the EL.

In considering consent to a dealing, the Minister/Delegate needs to be assured that the dealing shall not be inconsistent to any provision of the Act. A joint venture is a contractual arrangement between parties. The Minister/Delegate is not a party to such an agreement and will therefore not enforce the internal arrangements of the joint venture. All transfers and agreements must be assessed for stamp duty prior to registration in the Mining Register.

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Exploration licence surrender/Reduction in area

A licensee may apply to surrender all or a portion of an exploration licence at any time during its term by using Form 14: Lease or licence: surrender or partial surrender. The licensee must ensure that all outstanding regulatory obligations, including rehabilitation, and submission of outstanding reports is promptly completed to the satisfaction of the Department.

In seeking a reduction in area of an existing EL or a renewal of term over a reduced area, the licensee must lodge a complete technical report for the area being relinquished within 60 days of relinquishment, in addition to normal reporting. Reports on relinquished areas will be placed on open file. Partial relinquishments or reductions at renewal must be identified on a map and conform to whole minutes of latitude and longitude.

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For more information, contact:

Mineral Tenements
Phone: +61 8 8463 3103
Fax: +61 8 8463 3101

Postal address (for forms, report submissions)
Mineral Tenements
GPO Box 320
Adelaide SA 5001
Street address
Resource Information Centre
Level 4, 11 Waymouth Street
Adelaide SA 5000

Maps and historical information are available from:
Customer Services
Phone: +61 8 8463 3000