Mining on agricultural land - resources

The current Mining Act 1971 outlines conditions under which mining may occur in South Australia. While some of these conditions are outdated given the legislation has not been substantially reviewed in 40 years, Grain Producers SA believes that some of them are just plain not fair to grain producers.

21 days’ notice

To access a producer’s land to undertake any form of exploration, a mining company must either:

  • Issue a form called a ‘notice of entry’ and then wait 21 days before entering.
  • Negotiate an agreement with producers that includes the conditions of entry.

Producers can refuse entry and sometimes, these cases end up in court. Many producers are arguing that 21 days’ notice – from the date of the notice, not when it is received – is insufficient for them to find out more information and consider their options before a miner is granted access to land.

Exempt land

Technically, cultivated fields are defined as ‘exempt land’ in the Mining Act 1971. However, there is provision for that exemption to be waived. Landowners can negotiate with the mining company on conditions of exemption and compensation but if agreement cannot be reached, the matter is referred to court. This has happened numerous times for primary producers in SA and no recent case in SA has ruled in favour of producers who do not want miners on their property.

Exploration timeframes

In some cases, producers who have mineral exploration on their property have waited many years before there is any progress toward a mine. This has meant producers have no certainty on whether or not their property will be subject to a mine and they cannot plan to make on-farm investments in their property, such as building sheds or improving soils. Many producers are arguing that this uncertainty is unfair and counterproductive to running a profitable farm business.

The Leading Practice Mining Acts Review of SA’s Mining Laws

In September 2016, the State Government announced it would review the Mines and Works Inspection Act 1920, Mining Act 1971 and the Opal Mining Act 1995 with the view to introducing a bill to Parliament in 2017.
The impacts of mineral exploration and mining on agricultural land is significant. Any grain grower who has mining activity on their land would attest to the fact it can be a stressful and emotional issue to deal with. The review is one of the biggest opportunities for grain growers in the industry’s history to be able to influence and respond to a number of issues in South Australia’s Mining Acts.

The government has released a discussion paper on each of the three acts, with the most important one for agriculture being the Mining Act 1971.




Grain Producers SA

Presentation by CEO Darren Arney at grower consultation meetings in Janurary/February 2017 - PDF document

Summary of issues raised at grower consultation meetings at Wudinna, Cummins, Maitland and Murray Bridge - PDF document

Small Business Commissioner

Overview of the Mining and Resources Industry Land Access Dispute Resolution Code - PDF document

Fair Trading (Mining and Resources Industry Land Access Dispute Resolution Code) Regulations 2018 - PDF document

Department of State Development

Guidelines: landowner rights and access arrangements in relation to mineral exploration and mining in South Australia - PDF document

Landowner frequently asked questions about mineral exploration in South Australia - PDF document

Understanding mineral exploration: information for farm businesses and the community - PDF document

Eyre Peninsula Land Use Support Program

Download resources from the EPLUS website



Updated November 2016

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