Allocating of mining rights

The Crown Minerals Act 1991 governs the allocation of rights to prospect for, and mine for minerals in New Zealand (including the EEZ). The purpose of the Crown Minerals Act is to promote prospecting for, exploration for, and mining of Crown-owned minerals for the benefit of New Zealand.

The Act provides for the efficient allocation of rights to prospect for, explore for and mine Crown-owned minerals, the effective management and regulation of the exercise of those rights, the carrying out, in accordance with good industry practice, of activities in respect of those rights, and a fair financial return to the Crown for its minerals.

Whangarei Harbour Refinery (Credit: Raewyn Peart)

Applications for prospecting and mining licences are processed by New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals. The Minerals Programme for Minerals (excluding petroleum) set out the policies and procedures followed for the allocation of mineral resources (including consultation with iwi and hapū by the Crown prior to allocation). The requirements to be met by permit holders are defined in the Crown Minerals Regulations.

The Crown Minerals Act separates activities into Tier 1 and Tier 2. Tier 1 includes high-return high-risk projects, and most, if not all, marine minerals operations will fall within this category. The Act requires a high-level preliminary assessment of the applicants’ health, safety and environmental policies, and technical and financial capabilities, to be undertaken for all applications for Tier 1 activities. The purpose is to ensure that the applicant is able to undertake the work proposed, and that the applicant has a satisfactory Health, Safety, and the Environment (HSE) history and hence will not likely cause such issues in New Zealand.

According to New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals, which manages the Crown’s oil, gas, mineral and coal resources, these changes to the Crown Minerals Act improve coordination between the Crown Minerals permitting regime and health and safety and environmental regulatory functions for Tier 1 activities. As well as the initial HSE and capability assessments, there are annual review meetings and information sharing between regulatory agencies. 3513

Before granting a permit for Tier 1 exploration or mining, the Minister of Energy and Resources must be satisfied that the proposed permit operator has, or is likely to have, by the time the relevant work in any granted permit is undertaken, the capability and systems that are likely to be required to meet the environmental requirements of all specified acts for the types of activities proposed under the permit. The Minister may seek the views of other regulatory agencies, including local authorities, the Environmental Protection Agency and Maritime NZ, in satisfying himself or herself of these matters. 3514

Permits cannot be granted over conservation areas listed in Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act. This includes any national park, marine reserve, nature reserve, scientific reserve, wilderness area, wildlife sanctuary, RAMSAR wetland and other specified areas.

Last updated at 11:30AM on January 10, 2018