THE Northern Territory Government yesterday announced a new process for land access agreements between the mining, petroleum and agriculture industries.

Chief Minister Adam Giles said the new process to establish land access agreements strikes a balance between the rights of resource companies to explore and the rights of pastoralists to be advised, informed and consulted before exploration begins.

“Mining, petroleum and agriculture are critical to the ongoing economic development of the Northern Territory,” he said.

“This process recognises that mining and petroleum companies need to work together with pastoralists for the future prosperity of the Northern Territory.”

The new process includes:

  • The establishment of a land access agreement for those exploration activities considered to create more disturbance and requires the lodgement of a Mining Management Plan or Petroleum Environment Plan;
  • If agreement over conditions for land access cannot be reached within 60 days by mutual consent, the matter will be referred to an arbitration panel to be made up of high level government and industry representatives;
  • The arbitration panel will arbitrate between the parties for a successful agreement within 21 days of the formation of the panel; and
  • Once agreement has been reached, the Department of Mines and Energy may approve the Mining Management Plan or Petroleum Environment Plan.

Minister Giles said the enhanced stakeholder engagement protocols provide added structure to any existing land access arrangements that may exist and that the continuing good relations between landholders and explorers required recognition of the rights and responsibilities of both parties.

“Access agreements will provide a mechanism for certainty for resource companies and for pastoralists who will continue to manage the land for many generations to come,” he said.

“All resources (minerals, oil and gas) are owned by the Territory and the Territory has the right to authorise the exploitation of those resources.

“All Territorians also benefit from royalties paid by companies and the economic development associated with these resources.

“Today’s announcement highlights the importance of both the resources and the agriculture sectors to the future economic prosperity of the Territory.”