Mineral prospecting minimum standards

Team with drill rig drilling for minerals

Holding a prospecting authority for minerals in NSW comes with certain rights and responsibilities. Explorers in NSW must demonstrate a genuine commitment to the sustainable discovery and development of the State’s mineral resources.

The Minimum Standards for Work Programs and Technical and Financial Capability (the Standards) apply to applications for the grant, renewal and transfer of mineral and coal prospecting authorities submitted from 1 January 2021.

Download the Minimum standards for work programs and technical and financial capability.
Download a Frequently Asked Questions sheet about the Minimum standards.

How the Standards work

The Standards provide the mandatory criteria decision-makers consider when assessing applications for the grant, renewal and transfer of mineral prospecting authorities under the Mining Act 1992.

They apply to an applicant’s technical and financial capability to carry out their proposed work program, and clearly set out the criteria applicants must meet to demonstrate their commitment to effective and sustainable exploration.

The Standards provide greater clarity and certainty to applicants and the community on how the NSW Government assesses prospecting authority applications.

The Standards deliver on action 4.4 of the NSW Minerals Strategy 2019.

MEG developed the Standards in close consultation with industry and community stakeholders and accepted stakeholder submissions in November 2019. To download a copy of MEG’s response to these submissions please click on the link below:

Download the Response to stakeholder submissions – November 2019

Transitional arrangements from 1 January 2021

To ensure a smooth transition and enable applicants to meet the requirements of the Standards (if applicable) the following transitional arrangements apply:

  • All applications for the grant, renewal and transfer of mineral and coal prospecting authorities received on or after 1 January 2021 will be assessed against the Standards.
  • Prospecting authority applicants awaiting determination on grant, renewal or transfer applications lodged prior to 1 January 2021 are not obliged to resubmit their application under the Standards.
  • Current prospecting authority holders will continue to operate under their existing work program until the end of the current authority term. If the existing work program requires amendment, it must be submitted in the same form in which it was approved. While these amendments are not subject to the Standards, applicants and authority holders can ‘opt in’ to the new work program arrangement by submitting a new work program in the new form.

Change to the Standards and associated documents since July 2020

Since they were first published in July 2020, MEG has worked to optimise the process for applying the Standards. The key change to the Standards from July 2020 is that technical managers relying on professional membership to meet the Standards are required to hold a minimum membership level of 'Member', rather than 'Fellow'.

Additionally, the Exploration Guideline: Annual activity reporting for prospecting titles and the associated Annual Activity Summary and Expenditure Table Template have been updated to remove the requirement to update the work program annually.

Related documents

Proposed work programs must be prepared in accordance with the Exploration Guideline: work programs for prospecting titles using one of the following:

For more information

For more information, read the Frequently Asked Questions or contact the Assessments and Systems team on (02) 4063 6600 or resource.operations@planning.nsw.gov.au