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The grant of a mining lease gives the holder the exclusive right to conduct mining operations to sell or dispose of minerals

South Australia has a two stage mining approvals process:

  • stage one is holding a granted mining lease
  • stage two is having operational approval through an approved program for environment protection and rehabilitation (PEPR).

A mining lease must be obtained before production or sale of minerals can commence. A mining lease gives the holder the exclusive right to conduct mining operations and sell the minerals specified in the conditions attached to the lease. Mining operations must be conducted in accordance with an approved program for environment protection and rehabilitation (PEPR).

The Mining Act 1971 (the Mining Act) also deals with other types of tenements related to mining leases. A mineral claim is a precursor tenement to a mining lease or a retention lease. Only the holder of a registered mineral claim can apply for a mining lease or retention lease.

A retention lease can be granted if, for economic or other reasons, it is not currently optimal for the holder to progress a project to a mining lease.

A miscellaneous purposes licence is granted to allow the holder to conduct ancillary operations related to mining, for example a processing plant, access road or power infrastructure.


Types of production tenements

Mineral claims

A mineral claim is a type of mining tenement under the Mining Act.  A mineral claim allows you to prospect or explore for minerals in the area of the claim for 12 months. It also gives you the right to apply for a mining lease or retention lease over the area.

A mineral claim is pegged by placing posts in the ground to identify the area of the claim. With prior approval from the Mining Registrar, you can identify the claim by using a plan prepared by a licensed surveyor.

Any individual or registered business entity may peg a mineral claim.

How are mineral claims registered in South Australia?

how mineral claims are registered in South Australia

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Mining leases

There are two classes of mining leases in South Australia:

How are mining leases assessed in South Australia?

how mining leases are assessed in South Australia

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Retention lease (RL)

A retention lease may be granted to an applicant for the following reasons:

  • For economic reasons or other reasons, the applicant is, in the opinion of the Minister, justified in not proceeding immediately to mine the land in pursuance of a mining lease; or
  • Sufficient investigation has not yet been carried out to enable the Minister to determine the terms and conditions upon which mining lease should be granted; or
  • Where the applicant is seeking an authorisation to carry out mining operations for the recovery of radioactive minerals and the Minister thinks it desirable to defer the granting of a mining lease endorsed with such an authorisation.

A retention lease is granted for a period of up to 5 years. Retention leases do not have an automatic right of renewal. Should renewal be sought, the holder must explain why an application for a mining lease has not been made during the 5 year term.

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Miscellaneous purposes licence (MPL)

A miscellaneous purposes licence can be granted as an auxiliary tenement to mining operations for the purpose of:

  • Carrying on any business that may conduce effective conduct of mining operations
  • For establishing and operating plant for the treatment of ore recovered during the course of mining operations
  • For drainage from a mine
  • For the disposal of overburden or any waste produced by mining operations
  • Any other purpose directly relating to the conduct of mining operations

Miscellaneous purposes licences are generally used for infrastructure corridors, roads, waste rock dumps, tailings storage facilities, or power access.

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Private mine

When the Mining Act came into effect it provided a process whereby persons divested of the right to minerals could, under certain circumstances, make an application to retain the rights to the minerals. If an application was successful, the Governor proclaimed the area to be a private mine. The ability to make an application for a private mine was only available for a limited time after the commencement of the Mining Act.

Part 11B of the Mining Act deals with private mines. The obligations of the proprietor of a private mine may be different to those of the holder of a production tenement, for example there is no renewal requirement for private mines. Private mine proprietors are required to lodge mining returns and pay royalties.

If you have any question regarding private mines contact the Mineral Tenements Team.

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Tenement information

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

SARIG can be used to:

  • Identify ground available for mining lease applications
  • Identify areas reserved from the Mining Act
  • Identify existing tenement holders
  • Identify interests in land such as parks, Aboriginal land, defence land
  • Download exploration data and reports relevant to your area of interest

Mining Register online

You can use the Mining Register online to obtain:

  • Copies of lease and licence documents
  • Summaries of tenement information
  • Tenement and instrument printouts

Access the Mining Register

SARIG tenement information

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Production tenement applications

Mineral claim, mining lease, retention lease or miscellaneous purposes licence

Regulatory Guideline MG1: Guidelines for miners: mining approval processes in South AustraliaAn application for a production tenement must be made using the relevant form, including the required supporting document (for example, proposal or management plan), and payment of the fee.

Any person or registered business entity may apply for a mining tenement.

Only the holder of a registered mineral claim may apply for a mining lease or retention lease.

MG1 Guidelines for miners: Mining approvals processes in South Australia (PDF 1.3 MB) is a good source of information regarding the production tenement application process.

Ministerial determinations state the minimum information required to be provided in a mining proposal or management plan.

Application forms

Application forms are available as PDF files that can be opened, printed and manually completed, or as MS Word eForms that can be completed online (save to your local drive, complete the form online, print and sign the copy before lodging or serving).

Mineral claim

Mining lease

Retention lease

Miscellaneous purposes licence

Applications must be accompanied by the relevant fee and documentation as requested in the application forms.

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Lodgement of a proposal and/or management plan

Information regarding the lodgement of a proposal and/or management plan:

Ministerial determinations

Note: For applications involving coal or uranium, please contact the Mining Regulation Branch on +61 8 8463 3000.

Regulatory guidelines

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Program for environment protection and rehabilitation (PEPR)

Tenement holders must hold an approved program for environment protection and rehabilitation (PEPR) before conducting mining operations. The PEPR must be prepared in accordance with the relevant ministerial determination and mineral regulatory guideline.

Ministerial determinations
Mineral regulatory guideline

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Bond

Mining tenements may be subject to a bond under section 62 of the Mining Act. A bond may be requested after a PEPR has been approved, a tenement has been transferred or a bond review has been completed.

The bond requested will generally cover the full cost of the rehabilitation, along with contingencies, and must be lodged prior to commencement of mining. This is to ensure the community is not left with the financial liability for rehabilitation should the tenement holder forfeit the lease due to financial difficulties.

The bond is assessed by the Department based on the approved rehabilitation activities in the PEPR, and a review of the rehabilitation liability assessment provided by the tenement holder in the PEPR. The bond is costed on the basis of a third party being contracted to undertake the work, and will include a provision for contingencies and risk associated with the rehabilitation activities. A bond may be reviewed at any time, including when a PEPR review is being undertaken.

A bond may be lodged in cash, as bank guarantee, or in the form of an approved surety. Further information on bonds is provided in MG1 Guidelines for miners: Mining approvals processes in South Australia (PDF 1.3 MB). Failure to lodge the bond requested by the Minister may lead to prohibition of mining operations, suspension or cancellation of the lease or licence.

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Mining returns and royalty payment

All tenement holders, proprietors of private mines and district councils are required to submit a mining return each six months declaring production and paying any associated royalty.

Note: a return must be submitted even if no production has occurred in the six month period.

Mining returns and royalty due dates

Reporting periodTReL available for return submissionReturns and royalties due
1 Jan - 30 June mid-June 31 July of that year
1 Jul - 31 Dec mid-December 31 Jan of the next year

More information on preparing mining returns, royalty rates and the calculation of royalties, E-Lodgement of returns (TReL) and royalty audits can be found on the Mineral royalties page of this website.

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Renewal or expiry of mining lease, retention lease or miscellaneous purposes licence

Before a tenement expires, the holder may apply to renew the tenement for a further term. This can only occur if the provisions of the Mining Act and terms and conditions of the lease or licence have been complied with.

Form 15: Lease or Licence: Renewal must be completed and lodged with the Department.

The application for renewal must be received between six to three months prior to expiry of the tenement (Note: an application cannot be received earlier than six months prior to expiry). There is no fee to lodge a renewal application.

However, if an application is lodged less than three months prior to the expiry date, the holder must seek Ministerial Consent in a separate written submission to the Department, providing reasons as to why the application was late - this may attract fees. Failure to make an application prior to the expiry date will result in the tenement being expired.

If a tenement has not reported production in the period prior to the expiry date, a statement of intent may be requested with the renewal application. The statement of intent must set out the future plans for the conduct of mining operations.

When a valid renewal application is lodged, the tenement will remain active until the application is determined. All obligations pertaining to the tenement will remain the tenement holder’s responsibility, including lodgement of mining returns, royalty payments and rent.

Documents to be lodged – renewal of a lease or licence

Renewal reminders

It is the responsibility of the tenement holder to lodge a renewal application within the appropriate time frame. The Department provides a reminder notice to assist tenement holders to lodge the renewal application within the correct time frame.

A first notice will be forward to the tenement holder six months prior to the expiry date of the tenement. A follow up reminder will be forwarded if no response is received to the first notice.

The Department should be advised in writing if the holder does not wish to renew the tenement.

Please note, should the tenement holder elect not to renew the tenement, the provisions of the Mining Act and the terms and conditions of the lease related to rehabilitation apply. Section 70F of the Mining Act provides that the tenement holder is liable for rehabilitation of the land. Penalties apply for non-compliance with this section which may lead to a maximum penalty or $250,000.

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Transfer of a mining lease, retention lease or miscellaneous purposes licence

A production tenement may be transferred from the current tenement holder to an individual or registered business entity.

A completed Form 13: Lease or Licence: Instrument of Transfer must be completed and lodged to the Department together with relevant supporting documents and payment of the relevant fee.

Note: A lease or licence will not be transferred if any crown rent, fees or royalty payments are overdue.

Documents to be lodged:

  • Form 13: Lease or Licence: Instrument of Transfer
    Lease or licence: instrument of transfer (PDF 350 KB)
    Lease or licence: instrument of transfer (DOCX 327 KB)
  • Attachment: Applicant details
    Attachment – Applicant Details form (PDF 155 KB)
    Attachment – Applicant Details form (DOCX 253 KB)
  • Original or Certified copy of any Sales Agreement, if applicable
  • Return of the original lease documents (replacements can be purchased if required)
  • Lodgement of any outstanding mining returns
  • Written confirmation that the transferee will accept responsibility for the rehabilitation of the lease, including the existing workings, and will undertake to lodge a bond with this Department if requested to do so. This confirmation can be lodged with the transfer application or provided within 21 days of lodgement.

On receipt of an application for transfer, an assessment will be conducted by the Mining Regulation Branch. This may include a site inspection, a review of the approved program, a capability assessment of the transferee and, if relevant, a review of any bonds associated with the tenement. Once completed, a recommendation for Ministerial Consent will be put forward to the Delegate.

In order for the transfer process to be finalised, Stamp Duty must be assessed by Revenue SA.  For most transfers, this will be undertaken after Ministerial Consent has been given. Once Stamp Duty has been assessed and paid, the Form 13: Lease or Licence: Instrument of Transfer, must be returned to the Department for registration.

Please be aware Regulation 44(1)(g) of the Mining Regulations 2011 states:

“a transfer does not take effect until a memorial of the transfer is entered in the Mining Register.” 

Based on this, all obligations related to the tenement remain the current tenement holders’ responsibility until the transfer is entered in the Mining Register. This includes obligations such as lodgement of mining returns, royalty payments and rent.

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Surrender of a mining lease, retention lease or miscellaneous purposes licence

A tenement holder may apply to surrender all or a portion of a tenement at any time during the term of the tenement. The tenement holder must lodge Form 14: Lease or licence: surrender or partial surrender with the Department, along with any relevant information. An application to surrender only a portion of the tenement must have a plan with GPS coordinates attached.

On receipt of an application for surrender, an assessment will be conducted by the Mining Regulation Branch. This includes a site inspection to review if the rehabilitation and closure requirements in the lease conditions and/or the approved program have been complied with.

In accordance with Regulation 45 of the Mining Regulations 2011:

45—Surrender of lease
The Minister may approve an application for the surrender of all or a portion of a mining lease or a retention lease if the Minister is satisfied—
that all relevant rent, royalties and fees have been paid; and
that all relevant land (being land to which the surrender relates and, if relevant, land outside the area of the tenement) has been rehabilitated—
in accordance with the requirements of a program under Part 10A of the Act; and
to a standard required to secure compliance with a condition of the lease; and
that all other requirements under the Act (including by virtue of a notice, direction or order under the Act) have been complied with or satisfied.
The Minister may, if the Minister thinks fit, waive compliance with a requirement under subregulation (1).
A right of surrender under the Act and these regulations is subject to the rights of persons claiming from or under a lessee.”

Based on this, all obligations related to the production tenement (including lodgement of mining returns, payment of royalty and rent, and compliance with the PEPR), remain the tenement holder’s responsibility until the transfer is approved and entered on the Mining Register.

Note: A lease or licence cannot be surrendered if any crown rent, fees or royalty payments are outstanding.