Legislation, regulations and guidelines
Australia continues to streamline business, policy and investment processes that, in combination with a proven record of environmental, social, financial, legal and political stability, make Australia the smart, secure choice for exploration and project investment.
This page provides information on federal, state and territory legislation, policies and guidelines for mining and exploratory projects.
The Australian Commonwealth government administers policy for mineral and petroleum exploration in Australia's offshore areas. Responsibility for onshore legislation lies with Australia's states and territories.
- Offshore mineral legislation (additional information here)
- Offshore petroleum legislation
The Energy Council Cabinet Reform Committee (ENCRC) replaced the former Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Energy Council following the disbandment of COAG in May 2020. Energy Ministers work closely with Energy Consumers Australia, and have oversight of the following energy market institutions responsible for the operation of national energy markets:
- the Energy Security Board (ESB)—whole of system oversight through transition
- the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC)—the rule maker and market development adviser
- the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO)—the system operator
- the Australian Energy Regulator (AER)—the economic regulator and rule enforcer.
Like many countries, Australia reviews foreign investment proposals on a case-by-case basis to ensure they are not contrary to the national interest. See Foreign Investment Review Board for more information.
State and territory legislation
New South Wales
- All legislation
- Mining, petroleum and geothermal legislation
- Forms, procedures and guidelines
- Guide to mineral exploration in the Northern Territory
- Mineral Resources Development Act 1995
- Mineral Resources Regulations 2016
- Mining (Strategic Prospectivity Zones) Act 1993
- Mining legislation and compliance
- Resources safety legislation and compliance
- Petroleum and geothermal exploration legislation and schedules
The Chief Government Geologists, through the Government Geoscience Information Committee, have developed a national requirements standard for resources exploration reporting.
- Australian requirements for the submission of digital exploration data (v4.5) - Feb 2018 [PDF 2813KB].
Mineral exploration reporting template software
Software to facilitate the creation of geochemical, drilling and other point located data in the required data templates has been developed to assist industry clients comply with the reporting guidelines.
- Mineral Reporting Template (MRT) software v1.4.2 - October 2012 [ZIP 6.8MB]
- Data templates and examples - October 2012 [ZIP 365KB]
Commonwealth offshore reporting guidelines
Offshore minerals reporting regulations can be found on the Department of Innovation, Industry and Science webpage: Offshore mineral legislation and Offshore Minerals (Data Lodgement and Reporting) Regulations 1996 [PDF 31KB].
Further information on offshore petroleum reporting guidelines can be found on the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Authority (NOPTA) website.
State and territory reporting guidelines and systems
Each jurisdiction has its own set of guidelines tailored to its legislation. State and territory mineral exploration guidelines are based on the national guidelines
New South Wales
- Reporting guidelines
- Use GSQ Open Data Portal to search for reports and data
- Reporting guidelines
- Exploration reports: Use SARIG to search the SAMREF database
- Reporting guidelines
- Use TIGER to search for reports and data
The Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) is a non-statutory body established in 1976 to advise the Treasurer and the Government on Australia's foreign investment policy and its administration.
Like many countries, Australia reviews foreign investment proposals on a case-by-case basis to ensure they are not contrary to the national interest. The review framework is well-established, practical and non-discriminatory. Most proposals are considered within 30 days and Australia rarely rejects or imposes conditions on foreign investment business proposals. Since 2001 only three resources-related business proposals have been rejected.
You can find out more by going to the Foreign Investment Review Board website.
The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act) is the Australian Government's central piece of environmental legislation. It provides a legal framework to protect and manage nationally and internationally important flora, fauna, ecological communities and heritage places - defined in the EPBC Act as matters of national environmental significance. The EPBC Act enables the Australian Government to join with the states and territories in providing a truly national scheme of environment and heritage protection and biodiversity conservation.
The Department of the Environment designs and implements the Australian Government's policies and programmes to protect and conserve the environment, water and heritage and promote climate action. You can find out more about the EPBC Act on their website.
The EPBC Act provides a legal framework to protect and manage matters of national environmental significance. The EPBC legislation applies to any activity that is likely to have a significant impact on identified matters of national significance. EPBC approval may be required for certain actions or activities that affect Australia's environment, for example when mining or exploration activities may impact on water resources.
Those currently investing, or considering investing, in minerals and petroleum exploration and development in Australia, should be considering the taxation implications. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has a considerable amount of related material available.
Minerals specific taxation
The state and Northern Territory governments collect royalties on mineral production in return for granting the right to private businesses to exploit mineral resources within their jurisdictions. With limited exceptions, these take the form of output-based royalties imposed as a percentage of the value of production or, less commonly, the volume of production. Royalty payments are a deduction for company income tax purposes.
Royalty systems on minerals across Australian states and the Northern Territory vary by both jurisdiction and commodity.