Mineral exploration, quarrying and mining in South Australia is strictly regulated. Explorers and miners must meet strict conditions to apply for licences, enter land and perform any related activities. Landowners, including native title groups, must be consulted and have specific rights under the Mining Act.

Communities and people often seek more information on the following topics:

Land access and landowner rights

Explorers must notify landowners or enter into a land access agreement with landowners before entering their land to explore.

Find out about your rights to notice of entry:

Some land is exempt from mining and exploration, which means it can’t be explored or mined unless the landowner agrees to waive their land exemption and reaches an agreement with the explorer or miner about compensation and conditions of entry.

Find out about exempt land and your rights:

If you and the explorer can’t come to an agreement, either party may apply to the court to decide.

Find out about the court process and your rights to compensation:

You may need to get legal help during this process.

Read about your rights to compensation for legal fees:

You may need support with these processes.

Find help to make informed decisions at the Landowner Information Service:

You may need help resolving disputes.

Read more about your rights to have disputes mediated by the Small Business Commissioner:

Find out more about land access, exempt land and compensation:

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Consultation and engagement

The community and other stakeholders affected by exploration and mining operations must be engaged and consulted at specific stages of the exploration and mining process.

Exploration to mining engagement

Download the word version of the Exploration to mining engagement process.

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Mineral exploration

Exploration includes a range of activities aimed at finding below-ground minerals.

Low impact or early exploration activities usually have minimal impact on the land, for example visual inspection by land or air, Aboriginal heritage surveys, work area clearances, geological mapping and other associated activities.

Advanced exploration programs test potential mineral resource targets. They can include drilling, earthworks, temporary camps and associated activities.

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  • Some land is exempt from mining and exploration, which means it cannot be explored or mined unless the landowner agrees to waive their land exemption and reaches an agreement with the explorer or miner about compensation and conditions of entry.

    Find out more:

    Before entering into a land access agreement, the explorer must give notice to the person with the exemption using the statutory Form 23A: Waiver of exemption - tenement holder request.

    Find out more about making agreements:

  • At least 42 days before exploration starts, the explorer or miner must either enter into a written land access agreement with the landowner or give them Form 21A: Notice of entry on land - for prospecting and low impact exploration operations, or Form 21B: Notice of entry on land - advanced exploration operations.

    Find out more:

    If a company intends to apply for a mining lease, retention lease or miscellaneous purposes licence, they most give landowners a notice of intention to apply. If the lease or licence application is not lodged within 12 months, the company must provide another notice of intention to apply.

  • Landowners are entitled to compensation for economic loss, hardship and inconvenience caused by exploration or mining operations on their land and can claim to be reimbursed for the costs of independent legal advice on exempt land issues.

    Find out more about land access, exempt land and compensation:

    Mineral exploration in South Australia is strictly regulated. Explorers and miners will be held accountable for complying with all obligations.

    Find out more:

    • Mining Act compliance and enforcement in South Australia (available soon)
  • Land can sustainably be used for multiple purposes at the same time and over time. South Australia is a pioneer of multiple land use and sequential land use.

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  • Some land in South Australia is owned or controlled by the Commonwealth Department of Defence but remains mineral land and can be accessed for mineral exploration and mining subject to certain restrictions and conditions.

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  • Conservation areas and marine parks are protected under other South Australian Acts.

    Find out more:

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    Common enquiries


  • Access to land to prospect, explore and mine for minerals is controlled by the Mining Act 1971 and Mining Regulations 2020. This includes laws about environmental protection and rehabilitation, fees and royalty payments, which miners must pay to the state and are spent on health, education and other services.

  • Less than 1% of exploration projects result in mining and even then the process from exploration to mining may take years.

    Learn more in:

  • Review the notice carefully then consider your options:

    • If you are in agreement with the proposed exploration operations described in the notice, no action is required. The explorer must wait 42 days to enter your land after serving the notice, unless both parties agree to allow entry before that.
    • If you need more information about the proposed exploration operations, contact the explorer using the details on the notice.
    • You may negotiate specific conditions of entry, such as the timing or location of exploration, by entering into a land access agreement with the explorer. This agreement must meet the requirements outlined in the Mining Regulations.
    • You may have the right to object to entry on the land if you are a freehold landowner or pastoral lessee.
    • If you believe the proposed operations may cause you economic loss, hardship or inconvenience, you can seek compensation from the explorer.
    • Some land is exempt from exploration and mining operations without permission from the landowner or by order of the relevant court.

    Find out more in:

  • You don’t need to do anything. These are forms the explorer must use to notify you that they intend to lodge an application with the Department for Energy and Mining.

    The department expects the explorer to continue to communicate with you about the proposal during the application process.

  • Any agreement, determination or order of the court is binding on future owners of the land and remains valid until the outlined operations are complete. Under the Land and Business (Sale and Conveyancing) Act 1994, when you sell the land, you must disclose any notices or agreements that apply to operations on it. However, new owners of land can negotiate further with the explorer. Contact the explorer directly or, if necessary, seek legal advice.

  • If you are a freehold landowner or pastoral lessee and have not signed an agreement with the explorer, you have the right to object to entry on your land. You do this by lodging a notice of objection in the relevant court – Warden’s Court, Environment, Resources and Development (ERD) Court or Supreme Court.

    You have three months from the date the notice of entry is served to lodge an objection. This means you can still lodge it after the 42-day notice period has ended and/or after the explorer has entered your property.

    If the court is satisfied that the proposed exploration operations are likely to result in substantial hardship or damage to your land, the court may determine:

    • that the explorer should not use your land, or a particular part of your land, for their proposed operations
    • conditions for carrying out the proposed operations on your land that will ensure the least impact on your land and detriment to your interests
    • the appropriate level of compensation to be paid.

    You cannot lodge a notice of objection if you have entered into an agreement with the explorer.

    Learn more from:

  • You may lodge an objection to the notice with the relevant court if you choose. However, the court may decide to delay the objection until the application is actually received so they can consider the proposed operations and make a determination about the impacts, conditions and compensation if applicable.

  • The landowner and explorer need to agree on what is considered exempt land. If agreement cannot be reached, the relevant court can decide.

    A landowner cannot claim exempt land status for actions taken after a licence or lease has been granted, like building a shed or dam, or deciding to plough a field. Satellite imagery is usually available to verify when structures were constructed.

    The Mining Act prohibits exploration from taking place without a waiver agreement but does not prevent an explorer from entering your land to peg a mineral claim before the exemption has been waived. A lease or licence can be granted without a waiver agreement being in place. However, the explorer must still send a notice of entry form and wait the required 42 days before entering.

  • The explorer must give you a Waiver of Exemption – Request form, asking you to agree to allow exploration on your land. They will then contact you to begin negotiations. If you agree to waive your exemption, you can complete the Waiver of Exemption – Agreement template or negotiate and sign a written agreement with the explorer.

    Consider the following when negotiating to waive an exemption:

    • The size, duration and type of exploration proposed
    • Start and end dates of the waiver of exemption agreement
    • Compensation rates
    • Any specific requirements relating to your land and business – eg gate entry practices, biosecurity requirements
    • Level and manner of rehabilitation

    Take the time to read all of the information provided by the explorer, and ask questions if you do not understand the request or would like further details. Find more information in MG31 Engagement, negotiation and agreement-making.

    Negotiate and compensation amount due as a part of your agreement.

    The explorer may seek mediation through the Small Business Commissioner or lodge a court application if access to the property cannot reasonably be negotiated.

    You may wish to seek legal advice before waiving the exempt status of your land. If you do, you can claim up to $2,500 from the explorer for your legal costs.

    The Law Society of South Australia offers a referral service to legal practitioners who can provide legal advice.

    If you can’t reach an agreement with the explorer to waive the exemption, the explorer may apply to the relevant court for an order waiving the exemption. If the court is satisfied the effects of the exploration can be addressed by imposing conditions on the explorer, the court may make an order waiving the exemption subject to those conditions.

    Relevant forms

    • Waiver of Exemption – Request form (to be completed by the explorer)
    • Waiver of Exemption – Agreement template (to be completed by the landowner)

    Guidelines and information

    Where to seek legal advice

  • The compensation amount depends on individual circumstances. Consider:

    • the potential impact to your land from the proposed exploration operations
    • any loss of productivity or profits resulting from the conduct of proposed exploration operations
    • reasonable costs incurred by you related to the explorer accessing your land and the operations to be carried out on your land
    • reasonable costs incurred by you in negotiating compensation.

    The department may also direct the explorer to pay compensation to a landowner at any time if it is found that they are entitled to it because of loss or damage caused by exploration.

    If you are not able to agree with the explorer on the compensation amount, you or the explorer may apply to the Warden’s Court for compensation up to $250,000 or ERD Court for compensation over that amount.

    Find information on how economic loss and compensation may be calculated in:

  • Mineral exploration in South Australia is strictly regulated. Explorers and miners will be held accountable for complying with all obligations.

    Find out more in about mining compliance from the Mining Compliance page of this website: