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Mining proposals may include applications for mineral leases (MLs), extractive mineral leases (EMLs), retention leases (RLs) and miscellaneous purposes licences (MPLs).

Exploration licence applications (ELAs) and those relating to private mines are not included.

An explanation of the different types of tenure can be found in Information Sheet M06: Prospecting and Mining for Minerals (PDF 1.3 MB)

Whilst mining is important for the economic development of South Australia, it is also important that the potential benefits and impacts on the environment and on the broader community are identified and considered.

The South Australian Government's Mineral Resources Division has adopted recognised national regulatory principles and approaches including engagement and accountability. These are summarised in Regulating mineral exploration and mining in South Australia: Setting the framework for best practice regulation (PDF 550 KB)

Public consultation underpins these principles and approaches.

For individual mining proposals it is recognised that:

  • It is essential to engage with people and communities who are directly affected by or have an interest in the proposal.
  • Communities have a wealth of knowledge about their local environment that may not be available to the proponent or the Mineral Resources Division through formal records.
  • Benefits for both the local community and the proponent may be identified through two-way flow of information between the community and proponents.

Legislative requirements

For new lease or licence applications Section 35A(1) or 53(2) of the Mining Act 1971 requires the Minister for Energy and Mining to publish a notice in a newspaper inviting the public to make written submissions concerning the proposal.

The application is always advertised in The Advertiser and the Government Gazette. Local newspapers are also used in some cases.

The lease or licence application must also be directly circulated to the local council and the landowner of the site (Section 35A(1a) and (2) or 53(4) of the Mining Act 1971).

The usual time period for consultation is 4 weeks, but this may be increased for projects which are:

  • of significant public interest, or
  • of large scale and high complexity, or
  • where the consultation coincides with public holiday periods.

Under Section 35 of the Mining Act a mining lease application must be accompanied by a mining proposal (or for miscellaneous purposes licences a management plan under Section 53) that complies with the Mining Act and the relevant Minister's determination under the Mining Regulations 2011.

The legislation requires that when the Minister makes the decision whether to grant or refuse the application, and what conditions should be placed on the lease or licence if granted, the Minister must have regard to any written submissions made in response to the public notice or submissions from the local council and affected landowner. This means that public input is essential to setting the environmental outcomes the mine must comply with (and which will be strictly enforced by the South Australian Government's Mineral Resources Division) should the lease or licence be granted.

In accordance with Section 35B of the Mining Act any person who has made a written submission during the consultation period will be notified of the decision in writing, including the terms and conditions of the lease if it has been granted.

The grant of the lease is only the first stage of a two-stage approval process for new mines.

If the lease is granted, the leaseholder must prepare a program for environment protection and rehabilitation (PEPR) for approval under Section 70B of the Mining Act prior to commencing mining operations and no longer than 12 months after the lease was granted.

In addition, authorisations may be required under other legislation, for example the Native Vegetation Act 1991 and the Environment Protection Act 1993.

Public consultation is not required under the Mining Act 1971 for this second stage.

Mining proposal documents are made available electronically from the Public notices (mining) section of this website. If you have difficulty downloading information from the site, contact the relevant assessment officer and ask for a copy to be sent to you. Digital copies will be emailed free of charge. If you require a hard copy, a charge may be made to cover the cost of copying and postage.

A landowner who is directly affected by the mining proposal will be notified by a letter from the South Australian Government's Mineral Resources Division.

The local council is also directly informed about mining proposals in their council area. You can ask to see a copy of the proposal at the local council offices.

If you have any queries regarding a particular application, please contact the Assessment Officer whose name and contact details appear on the request for comment.

The assessment and approval process

The two-stage approval process, including the importance of public consultation and community engagement, is outlined in Minerals Regulatory Guidelines MG1: Guidelines for miners: mining approval processes in South Australia (PDF 1.3 MB).

Specific requirements for information expected to be provided by the proponent in support of their application is given in determinations. Copies of these determinations are provided on the Ministerial determinations section of this website.

Landowner rights

Information for landowners who might be directly affected by proposals, including information on important legal rights that some landowners may have in regard to mining on or adjacent to their land is given in Minerals Regulatory Guidelines MG4: Guidelines: landowner rights and access arrangements in relation to mineral exploration and mining in South Australia (PDF 5.0 MB)

What happens to a submission?

  • Full copies of all submissions received are forwarded to the proponent and may be made available for public inspection.
  • The South Australian Government's Mineral Resources Division will assess the submissions received and may require the proponent to respond to issues raised before the assessment of the mining proposal can proceed.
  • The Mineral Resources Division may require the proponent to submit a response document and this will be assessed by the Division. The response document may also be made available to the public.
  • Submissions may be quoted in the response document submitted by the proponent.
  • The Minister will consider the mining proposal, submissions received and the response document when assessing the application. If the lease is granted, conditions will be attached to the lease. Often these conditions will include matters that have been raised by public submissions.
  • The time from closing of submissions to finalisation of the Government's assessment report is usually between 1–3 months depending upon the scale and complexity of the proposal.
  • Anonymous submissions will not be accepted.
  • The Mineral Resources Division will send an acknowledgement letter to people who have made submissions if the submission contains contact details.

In accordance with Section 35B of the Mining Act any person who had made a written submission during the consultation period will be notified of the decision in writing, including the terms and conditions of the lease if it has been granted.

Requesting an extension to the deadline to make comment

Requests for an extension to the deadline to submit comments can be made via the DEM email address, listed with the invitation to comment, however this will only be granted in exceptional circumstances supported by sufficient justification.

Why doesn't it appear that comments have been taken into account?

Sometimes it may be difficult to see that the comments you have made have been taken into account in the assessment report. This may be due to:

  • The submission not clearly articulating the specific impact you are concerned about
  • The Mineral Resources Division assessing that the impact can be adequately managed, based on current industry practices
  • The Mineral Resources Division assessing the balance between the impact and the potential public benefits of the proposal (this may mean, for example, state-wide benefits that may outweigh local impacts)
  • The submission is outside the scope of the Mining Act 1971 jurisdiction
  • The issue is a private matter between a landowner and the mining proponent (for example compensation issues)
  • The issue being of minor or detailed nature that will be dealt with during the activity approval stage, i.e approval of the PEPR.

Your comments should relate directly to the mining process on the proposed lease area and not include issues outside the scope of the Mining Act 1971.

In considering the mining proposal it is recommended that comments focus on the following matters:

  1. Provide information on any aspect of the existing environment that either has not been included in the proposal; or that you consider has been inadequately described (examples might be survey of existing weeds, proximity to housing, local climate, areas of particular amenity or value to the local community).
  2. Describe any potential environmental, social and economic impacts that have not been identified in the proposal document (examples might be noise nuisance for local residents, loss of visual amenity for the local community).
  3. Consider the impact events identified in the proposal. For each of the impact events described consider if the proposed outcomes are acceptable. If not, try and describe the outcome and criteria you would find acceptable.
  4. Consider the mine closure outcomes and criteria. Are the closure outcomes appropriate and sufficient? Closure outcomes are those that apply when the mine has ceased operation and rehabilitation is completed. What closure outcomes would you like to see?
  5. Are the identified benefits of the proposal reasonable? Are there any other benefits you see could arise from the proposal?
  6. Does the community consultation process outlined in the proposal document match with your perception of the consultation process? How could the consultation process be improved? Are there key stakeholders that have been overlooked?

About 'outcomes' and 'criteria'
An outcome is a statement of the impact on the environment (which may be no impact) caused by the proposed mining activities. Outcome statements must be accompanied by measurement criteria which are designed to demonstrate that the outcome has been achieved. The South Australian Government's Mineral Resources Division will regulate the operation using the approved criteria to demonstrate achievement of the outcome.

An example of an outcome related to ground water might be:

'No adverse impact to groundwater quantity for pastoral use on the adjoining property caused by mining operations.'

And a criterion for this outcome might be:

'Quarterly monitoring of groundwater bores GW01-07 demonstrates water levels are not bing drawn down more than 2 metres compared to the pre mining water levels for those bores accounting for seasonal variation as detailed in Table x.'

Where possible provide evidence to support any concerns raised.

Landowner compensation issues are more appropriately dealt with via a separate part of the Mining Act 1971, and where appropriate by the Warden's Court (refer to Minerals Regulatory Guidelines MG4: Guidelines: landowner rights and access arrangements in relation to mineral exploration and mining in South Australia (PDF 5.0 MB) as these are private issues between the landowner and the proponent.

Submissions must be in writing and can be either emailed, posted or hand delivered or couriered.

Email to:
Postal address: Mining Regulation Branch
Department for Energy and Mining
GPO Box 320
Adelaide SA 5001
Hand deliver or courier: Level 4, 11 Waymouth Street