The Queensland Government has found over 900 mining leases were operating without a valid mining tenure and is seeking to retroactively approve them.
On August 6, the Queensland Transport and Resources Committee examined the Resources and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2021, which aims to clarify the legality of historically granted mining tenures.
Minister of Resources Scott Stewart said the Department of Resources found 86 coal mining leases and 847 mining leases for other minerals had “administrative deficiencies”.
“The Department of Resources has identified there were 86 mining leases for coal and 847 mining leases for other minerals that have one of the following or both administrative deficiencies: firstly, the minister did not recommend the issuing of the lease; secondly, the instrument of lease was not issued to the holder,” Stewart said when introducing the Bill.
Stewart said the minister at the time did not comply with a section of the Mineral Resources Act 1989 and 2010 where an instrument of lease needed to be issued to the applicant for the lease.
“To make it clear, prior to 2010 when recommending the grant of the mining lease, the minister was required to also make a recommendation to the Governor in Council that an instrument of lease be issued under previous section 271(1)(a),” Stewart said.
“My department is aware of some grants where the minister of the day did not include the recommendation to issue the instrument of lease to the Governor in Council.”
The Committee has recommended to pass the Bill, with the retroactive approvals necessary to ensure the lease holders avoid conferring new rights or obligations on to stakeholders.
Any leases identified with the deficiencies will be validated if the bill is passed.
“While the department believes that these mining leases are valid, these deficiencies do create some uncertainty for their holders and could give rise to potential legal challenges about the validity of the individual leases. To provide greater certainty, this bill proposes a clarifying amendment to remove any ambiguity,” the Department of Resources stated.