Monday, 30 May 2011

Is an exploration lease over your home?

Mining advocacy seminar, the week’s leaks and spill, is your home covered by a mining exploration lease – see the map, outgoing Woodside boss sleeps at night because he didn’t get the company into CSG mining.

Last week I went to Mudgee to a seminar on Mining and Advocacy: What you need to know, presented by the Environmental Defenders Office, a community legal centre specialising in public interest environmental law.

A group of 40 people from around NSW attended the very informative seminar. I am still writing up and checking the notes before posting them on my blog but here are the basics for the exploration stage which is where we are at Putty.

Landholders cannot refuse mining companies access to their properties to drill exploratory holes but they can negotiate conditions of access or take it to an Arbitrator. It is very important to seek legal advice from a solicitor or from the EDO before speaking to a mining company representative. An Access Agreement should be as detailed as possible and cover all possible contingencies.

Negotiate not to sign a confidentiality clause, prepare a list of your own access arrangements and speak to your neighbours and agree on standard terms. If the mining company breaches any terms of the agreement then you can lock the gate.

You have 28 days to reach an agreement or it goes to an Arbitrator which is free. You can appeal the Arbitrator’s decision in the Land and Environment Court but you will have to pay your own costs.

I decided to drive home through the Bylong Valley as I heard that exploration for coal seam gas is starting there. I came across some drillers but they were not allowed to tell me what they were drilling for. The number of white utes with aluminium trays with yellow fluro strips indicated that there is a lot of mining activity in the area.

A sign on Wallaby Scrub Road, a shortcut from the west to the Putty Road, indicated that Rio Tinto wants to close the road to extend their Warkworth mine. What next!!

During the week Arrow Energy capped a gas well that was spewing methane and water high into the air for more than a day at its project site near Dalby.

A Narrabri resident at the meeting in Mudgee told me about the Beibblewindi well which has water continually pouring out and no one seems to know how to fix it or where the water is coming from. Their greatest fear is that the Great Artesian Basin has been damaged.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that AGL is testing soil and water samples for contamination after waste water was released into the environment instead of being captured at a gas well near Campbelltown, close to homes and a Sydney Water catchment area.

NSW Minerals & Petroleum’s TAS Map enables the public to view frequently updated titles mapping information across NSW at the scale of their choice for free. Tick the box for Petroleum Tenure to see if a company holds a Petroleum Exploration Licence (PEL) over your land. If they do they are more than likely able to mine for coal seam gas on your land. Map images can be printed straight from the screen display or saved and inserted directly into word processing documents. This application can be found at

Outgoing Woodside Petroleum boss Don Voelte  - "I think one of the greatest things that I will have achieved is not taking my company into coal-seam methane." Mr Voelte said his earlier involvement in projects in the USA had taught him much, such as "exactly what happens with the water. I'll just say, I rest easy at night knowing that I didn't take my company there."


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