Mineral exploration

Preliminary exploration without a title

The purpose of preliminary exploration is to give you the opportunity to assess the potential of the area before making an application for a mineral title, or after application and prior to the grant of a mineral title.

If you are a mineral explorer you can enter land to conduct preliminary exploration without having to get an exploration title but you must follow the notifications detailed below. Penalties may apply if you do not follow the correct procedures.

Preliminary exploration includes any of the following activities as long as they do not involve significantly disturbing the ground:

  • examining geological characteristics
  • removing small mineral samples for analysis
  • marking boundaries for a proposed mineral title application
  • airborne geoscientific surveys - with approval.

Access to land for preliminary exploration

You must get the written consent of the landowner or the department for preliminary exploration on any of the following:

  • private land -  the landowner
  • parks or reserves  -  the landowner
  • reserved land - the department
  • Aboriginal land and Aboriginal community living area -  the landowner.

Refer to section 14 of the Mineral Titles Act for a full definition of landowner.

Giving notice to other landowners

You must give at least 14 days notice before doing preliminary exploration on all of the following:

  • pastoral land - to the occupier or landowner
  • native title affected land - to the occupier or landowner
  • vacant Crown land - where a licence under the Crown Lands Act exists - to the person holding the licence.

You are not required to give notice, or obtain consent on any other type of vacant Crown land.

The notice must include all of the following information:

  • a description or map that clearly shows the location and boundaries of the affected land
  • the name and contact details for the people undertaking and overseeing the exploration activities
  • how many people will be entering the land
  • a brief description of the proposed exploration activities and what equipment will be used
  • when it is proposed to start exploration - it must be at least 14 days after notice is given
  • how long it is expected to take
  • any requirements for entry.

You must also contact the landowner/manager as soon as you arrive on the land to let them know you are commencing preliminary exploration.

Exploration on existing title areas

If you want to do preliminary exploration on land which is covered by an existing mining or exploration licence you must follow the processes outlined below.

For area covered by an existing mineral exploration licence (EL)

You must give the title holder 14 days notice if you want to look for extractive minerals.

You must get consent from the title holder if you want to explore for minerals.

For area covered by an extractive mineral exploration licence (EMEL)

You must give the title holder 14 days notice if you want to look for minerals.

You must get consent from the title holder if you want to explore for extractive minerals.

For an area subject to an exploration title (EL or EMEL application)

You do not have to notify or get consent from the applicant for the exploration title, however you must give the landowner 14 days notice before entering the property.

Conditions for access

A person who gives permission for preliminary exploration can impose reasonable conditions on the entry and use of the land to be explored.

The owner of private land, or a park or reserve, can refuse permission for preliminary exploration if it will interfere substantially with the existing land use.

They can withdraw permission if reasonable conditions are not met.

For reserved land, the department must take into account what the reserve was created to protect before granting consent and setting conditions.

Disputes over access

Any disputes over access can be referred to the Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal. Read more about managing disputes.

Airborne geoscientific survey

You do not need an exploration title to do a preliminary airborne geoscientific survey, but you must get approval from the department, and you must report the results within 12 months of getting approval.

Get the application forms.

Application for preliminary airborne exploration (422.6 kb)
Application for preliminary airborne exploration (107.5 kb)

How to submit your application

You can submit your completed application by emailing geoscience.info@nt.gov.au

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Last updated: 27 June 2017