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Mineral and petroleum resources have shaped Australia’s history, economy, society and environment for more than 150 years and continue to do so. The exploitation of these resources involves governments as proprietors and regulators, together with private enterprise as explorers and developers. The complex relationship between governments and private enterprise provides the central theme of the subject. Australia’s federal system of government adds to the complexity of that relationship. The subject begins by identifying fundamental legal issues that occur in most countries in the exploration for and production of mineral and petroleum resources. It then examines the ways in which these issues are resolved in Australia, using statutory title regimes and government agreements. The effectiveness of the Australian approach to these matters is examined in the international context of legal arrangements employed for management of mineral and petroleum resources elsewhere in the world.
Principal topics include:
- Terminology: the meaning of ‘mineral’ and ‘petroleum’
- Jurisdiction over mineral and petroleum resources
- Property in mineral and petroleum resources
- Statutory exploration and production titles
- Government royalties
- Petroleum production controls and unit development
- Dealings and registration
- Private royalties
- Access to land
- Environmental controls
- State agreements
- Unconventional gas
- Underground storage
- Greenhouse gas storage
- Case study 1: Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990 (Vic)
- Case study 2: Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (Cth).
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- Understand the legal principles and arrangements relating to exploration for and production of mineral and petroleum resources in Australia, in the context of comparable principles and arrangements applicable in other countries
- Be familiar with the statutory regimes governing exploration for and production of mineral and petroleum resources in selected Australian jurisdictions
- Be able to apply the relevant law to problems arising in relation to these activities in Australia.
Last updated: 10 November 2023