Mineral claim application and renewal process

Opal seam in an opal mine

See below for renewal of mineral claims.

The contact details for the Lightning Ridge Office have changed, the new contact details are displayed on our Contacting MEG page.

This information has been prepared for the guidance of those who wish to obtain a mineral claim within the Lightning Ridge Mineral Claims District. If, after reading this information, you have any questions please contact the department's Lightning Ridge Office.

The conditions of the Lightning Ridge Mineral Claims District provide that the maximum number of mineral claims that may be held by any one person or company is two. This does not prevent a person from becoming the holder of further mineral claims that devolve on the person by operation of law.

To obtain a mineral claim you must:

  • Attend the Mine Safety Course
  • Decide on the type of mineral claim you need
  • Choose a suitable area that is available for application
  • Mark out the area required and prepare a plan of the area
  • Serve notice on all affected landholders
  • Mine operator who has completed the course
  • Lodge your application with the department

In addition, for registration of mineral claims within OPA 4 or on the property ‘Wyoming’, you are also required to:

  • Attend the Environmental Awareness Courses

It should be noted that mineral claim applications must be completed correctly. Failure to do so may prevent the registration of the desired claim and give precedence to other applicants with correctly completed applications who are competing for the same mineral claim area.

Attend mining courses

Newcomers intending to acquire a mineral claim must attend the Safety Awareness Course prior to a claim being granted or transferred to them.

In addition, the Environmental Awareness Course must be completed, prior to being granted or transferred a claim in Opal Prospecting Area 4 or on the property 'Wyoming'.

It should be noted that it is now a requirement to nominate a qualified Mine Operator for all Mineral Claims.

Decide on the mineral claim types

Several different forms of mineral claims are available. Some allow mining and others allow purposes in connection with mining such as for puddling and for residential purposes. Generally a person can hold no more than two claims at any one time.

Choose mineral claim areas

The department's Lightning Ridge Office has maps that show the areas of all mineral claims that are in force over the opal fields. You should choose an area that is free of any existing claim/s and where there are no restrictions on mineral claims being granted. In some areas mineral claims are not permitted whereas in others they may be permitted with consent. This particularly applies to areas that are affected by landholder improvements. The department's Lightning Ridge Office will advise you on these aspects.

Size and shape of mineral claims

The conditions of the Lightning Ridge Mineral Claims District specify the shape and size of mineral claims that may be granted within the area. These conditions are detailed below:

  • The area of land granted under a mineral claim must be square in shape no greater than 50 metres by 50 metres except where the external boundaries of the land available for grant make such a shape impractical in which case the maximum area must not exceed 2,500 square metres.
  • A mineral claim exceeding 2,500 square metres, but no greater than two hectares, may be granted, in accordance with policy, to a person who was, at the time of lodgement of the application for the mineral claim, the holder of a three (3) month Opal Prospecting Licence over the land. (This claim is called a Reward claim)
  • If a person demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Director General that "opal puddling" is an appropriate mining purpose in respect of a particular area a mineral claim of a size no greater than 2 hectares may be granted.

Mark out mineral claim areas

Prior to lodging your application for a mineral claim the area required must be marked out so that the boundaries and location of the area are known. The requirements for marking out an area are:

  • A post or steel star picket must be fixed firmly in the ground at each point where the boundaries of the proposed claim change direction and must project at least one metre above the surface.
  • Trenches must be cut at each post/star picket to indicate the general direction of the boundary lines of the proposed claim. These trenches must be at least 150 millimetres in depth and extend along the boundaries for a distance of at least 1 metre.
  • If it is not practical to cut trenches because of the nature of the ground, stone walls at least 150 millimetres in height and extending for a distance of at least 1 metre from the post or picket may be erected.
  • A completed mark out notice must be attached to the post or picket on the northernmost corner of the proposed claim, or if there are 2 or more of these, the easternmost of them, using a board or plate (made of wood or metal) as a base.

Supplies of mark-out notices (see below) are available from the department's Lightning Ridge Office.

IMPORTANT: The words MINERAL CLAIM must be in block letters prominently displayed at the head of the notice.
mineral claim

If the area of the proposed mineral claim is not marked out correctly, your applications for a claim may be refused by the department.

If there has been a complaint made that a mineral claim is not correctly marked out, the claim holder may be required to attend the Land and Environment Court and explain to the Court why they did not comply with the mark out provisions. It may be that the application for the claim could be refused or alternatively the grant voided or the claim may be cancelled.

In addition, an applicant for a mineral claim must provide a survey plan or map of the area marked out complete with measurements and bearings and distances so that the area can be accurately included in the department's records.

Survey measurements - bearings and distances

The main opal fields have survey marks placed on them to assist people to accurately measure (by bearings and distances) the location of their claims from these survey marks. This can be done using a compass and tape. The survey marks are tagged with metal identification numbers.

If you are not aware of the one nearest to your area of interest, contact the department's Lightning Ridge Office, who will provide a copy of the relevant plan showing the location of survey marks.

It is essential to have access to at least one mark when locating a claim. It is preferable to have two survey marks, one either side of the claim.  It is also desirable to indicate the property name on the survey to assist in locating the application area.  View a survey example.

IMPORTANT:

  • Under no circumstances should you step out your proposed claim or guess the bearings of the claim.
  • When using a compass you need to be aware of any metal objects either close by or on your person. You should stand at least 2 metres back from the post/picket or survey peg when taking a bearing.

Notice to landholders

You must serve notice of your intention to apply for a claim on all affected landholders. The definition of landholder in the Mining Act 1992 includes freehold owners; holders of Western Lands Leases and native title holders.

Notice can be served in one of two ways:

  • by personally handing the landholder a letter of your intention to apply for the claim and a copy of the survey plan or map: or
  • by posting a letter and a copy of the survey plan or map to the landholder.

The Commonwealth Native Title Act 1993 (CNTA) does not apply to the Lightning Ridge Opal Field because it has been declared under section 26C of the CNTA as an "approved opal and gem mining area". This means that while a number of standard requirements are met, mineral claim applicants do not have to undertake any section 29 procedures of the CNTA.

The following must be lodged personally with the department:

If all of the necessary requirements are complied with and there is no reason why the mineral claim should not be granted over the area a mineral claim may be granted.

The department, in granting the mineral claim, will give you a certificate that contains the number of the mineral claim and its terms and conditions.

In addition, the department will require you to:

  1. Sign the certificate accepting the terms and conditions of the claim.
  2. Pay the security deposit of $700 (some claims require higher security), to ensure that your obligations (including rehabilitation) under the claim are fulfilled.
  3. Pay the Administrative Term Levy (Lodgement fee)

Renewal of mineral claims

The contact details for the Lightning Ridge Office has changed, the new contact details are displayed on the Contacting MEG page

A mineral claim may be renewed as to the whole or any part of the claim area. Application for the renewal of a mineral claim can be lodged by mail, fax or in person with the department on or within two months before the day on which the claim is due to expire.

To renew your claim you must lodge:

After considering an application for renewal of a mineral claim, the department may renew the mineral claim or may refuse the renewal of an application.

Renewal

Upon renewal, the department will provide you with an Instrument of Renewal detailing the terms and conditions of the renewal.

It is your responsibility to be aware of and to comply with the conditions of your claim. Failure to do so may result in fines being imposed or in the cancellation of your claim.

Non-renewal

The department will not renew a claim if:

  1. the application for renewal is lodged after the expiry date of the claim.
    • there is a proposal to cancel the claim;
    • the provisions of the Mining Act 1992 (www.legislation.nsw.gov.au) or the Mine Health & Safety Act 2004 have not been complied with; or
    • where it has come to the attention of the Director-General that there has been a breach of the conditions of the claim which warrants refusal of the renewal application.

Breaches may include

  • that the area is not safe
  • building guidelines have not been met
  • more than one dog is being kept on the claim area.

If the department proposes to refuse an application for renewal it will serve on the holder a notice of intention to do so indicating the grounds of the proposed refusal.

A holder served with such a notice may, within twenty one (21) days of the date of the notice, make representations to the department as to why the application should not be refused.

Before any final decision is made, these representations will also be reviewed by the department's Titles Services.

List of mineral claims not renewed

At the end of each month the department's Lightning Ridge Office Team Leader can prepare a list of all mineral claims not renewed in the previous month. This list will be available to the public.