My Land, My Minerals?

(2 votes)

Make no mistake, the mining industry is booming in Tasmania. With mining royalties topping the $50 million mark last year thanks to record mineral sales and the recent decision by Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke to allow mining and exploration to go ahead in most of Tasmania's Tarkine region, Tasmania is enjoying a boom in its mining industry like never seen before.

The positive sentiment is not shared by all Tasmanian's however, and a recent decision by a Mole's Creek farmer to keep mining companies from conducting exploration activities on his 486 hectare property has brought the touchy issue of land and mineral ownership back into the public and political forum, with Tony Abbott weighing in on the discussion, saying miners should only be given access to agricultural land with express consent from landholders.

This is consistent with views Mr. Abbott expressed in August of 2011, saying farmers should have the right to refuse miners access to their land, particularly in instances where mining & drilling operations cause permanent damage to the water table or render the agricultural land unusable.

This raises the interesting question, not so much of who owns the land, but of who owns the minerals contained on and underneath the land? Though the intuitive response might lead you to believe that the land-owner would possess legal ownership over any minerals on their land, this is not in fact the case.

Quite unlike the United States - where land-owners are also the owners of mineral rights and are thus entitled to ownership of any mineral resources discovered on their land - any minerals discovered upon Australian land are owned by the Crown, with each State being slightly different in terms of legislation & regulation. In effect, this means that States have the power to grant leases or licences to mining and exploration companies, allowing them to enter onto land and take minerals.

A recent initiative titled the 'Lock The Gate Alliance' is aiming to fight what it deems inappropriate mining activities in a bid to 'protect Australia's natural, environmental, cultural and agricultural resources', according to their website. Ultimately though, with both sides of politics not wanting to kill the golden goose, individuals will have a hard time stopping mining companies wishing to conduct exploration activities on privately owned agricultural land.

What are your thoughts? Should farmers and land-owners be able to deny miners from exploring and mining the land? Would you give miners access to your land?

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Minetalk Poll

Is the mining boom in Australia over?

Is the mining boom in Australia over?

No, it's just media hype.
Yes as a result of lower demand.
There will be a second boom.
Still plenty of resources.
1 Votes left

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