Mining on Aboriginal freehold land

Your application to mine on Aboriginal freehold land can only be granted after:

  • consultation with the Traditional Owners (TOs) through their representative land council
  • an agreement is reached by all parties
  • consent is given by relevant federal minister.

TOs are represented in negotiations by their relevant land council in the Northern Territory.

This includes:

Part IV of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (ALRA) sets out how this process must be done on Aboriginal freehold land.

Read more on part IV or Aboriginal freehold land.

How to apply

To mine on Aboriginal freehold land, you must first apply for an exploration licence or permit over that land.

Read more on exploration on Aboriginal freehold land.

If a commercially viable discovery is made under your exploration licence or permit, you can then apply to mine for petroleum or minerals.

See the application processes below.


If you want to mine for petroleum, you must contact the Energy Division in the Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade (DITT).

They oversee the ALRA process and will help you apply for a:

  • production licence or
  • a retention licence or lease.

Read more about a production licence or retention licence or lease.


If you want to mine for minerals, you must apply for a mineral lease.

Read more on how to apply for a mineral title and follow the steps below:

Step 1. Lodge statement

After you apply for a mineral lease, you must:

  • lodge a mining statement with the relevant land council and
  • provide a copy to the DITT.

Read more about mining statement requirements under section 46(1) of the ALRA.

Step 2. Negotiations

The negotiating period starts from the date your mining statement is lodged with the relevant land council.

During the negotiating period, the relevant land council will invite you to attend on-country meetings with the TOs.

Read more under section 46 of the ALRA.

The DITT may also attend the on-country meetings. They can provide you with information and make suggestions on how to prepare for them.

If you have any questions or need help, call the DITT's land access officer on 08 8999 6357.

In the on-country meeting, you will need to talk to the TOs about your plans for mining.

They can't block mining if they have said yes to exploration.

A further agreement will need to be negotiated before mining can begin.

You will negotiate a mining agreement with the TOs on how you will mine on their land.

Step 3. Reaching an agreement and consent to the grant

Once you reach an agreement with the TOs through their relevant land council and its signed by all parties, you must:

  • get the agreement assessed for stamp duty by the Department of Treasury and Finance in the NT
  • provide an extract of the agreement to the DITT
  • have relevant federal minister consent to the grant.

The Native Title and Aboriginal Land Rights Unit ensure requirements under the ALRA process are followed.

This is done before your exploration licence or permit is granted.

Step 4. After grant

After the grant of your mineral lease, the DITT manages your title under the laws and regulations that cover mining in the NT.

Find out what happens after mineral title has been granted or read more on mining activities.


For more information, contact the Native Title and Aboriginal Land Rights Unit by calling 08 8999 5322 or emailing

Last updated: 09 October 2020

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