Aim for a fairer system for all

The Mining Act 1971 sets out how mining companies are to deal with landowners in SA. This includes the processes for entering onto a person's land and the paument of compensation if the land is to be acquired.

Havinig acted for landowners in mining matters, it is evident to us that there are a number of shortcomings with the act.

One of them related to a landowner whose land, or part of the land, might be acquired for a mine.

Often a landowner will have to wait years to find out whether a mine is going to proceed and if the land is to be acquired.

In the meantime, the landowner faces uncertainty about whether to further invest in the land - should new equipment be bought, a new shed erected or improvements undertaken on the dwelling?

As things stand, it is not clear whether the landowner would receive compensation for these invesments, particularly if they are made after the landowner is aware a mine may proceed. This situation is potentially exacerbated if the miner is only acquiring part of the land.

In this case it may be necessary for the landowner to go to court to seek orders that all of the land be acquired.

The state government has recently announced a comprehensive review into the act, with discussion papers expected to be released later this month. This review seeks to achieve eight objectives.

These include bringing forward the economic and social benefits of the state's mineral wealth; growing SA businesses and driving increased investment and employment by abolishing red-tape and strengthening the 'one stop shop' model for assessment of mineral resource development.

Undoubtedly of greatest interest to the agricultural sector is the objective related to improving transparency and land access engagement, negotiation and court resolution processes.

It is important that landowners rights are given proper consideration in any amendments to the legislation to ensure that there is a fairer system for all.

By Anthony Kelly, Partner

This article was originally published in The Stock Journal on Thursday 13 October 2016

Practice Area: Environment, Mining & Resources , Farm Law

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