Mining Agreement (Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (Cth)) (Australia)


An agreement made under s 46 of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (Cth) (ALRA). The Agreement sets out the terms and conditions to which the grant of a mining interest over Aboriginal land will be subject and is made between an Aboriginal Land Council (on behalf of, and after consultation with, traditional Aboriginal owners for the land over which the mining interest is to be granted) and the intending miner.

Extended Definition

According to s 46(1) of the ALRA, an application for consent to grant a mining interest must include:
(a) a comprehensive proposal in relation to the mining works that the intending miner proposes to conduct on the land which includes, but is not limited to, the following particulars:
(i) the anticipated period of activity of the mining works;
(ii) the proposed mining techniques;
(iii) the extent to which the mining and related activities will, or are likely to affect the environment inside and outside the affected land;
(iv) the proposed method and amount of vehicular access to and within the affected land with reference to any proposals to construct roads, landing strips or other access facilities;
(v) the maximum number of people likely to be on the affected land from time to time;
(vi) the water, timber and other requirements to be obtained from the affected land;
(vii) proposals for minimising the effect of the proposed mining works on the affected land;
(viii) any other information of the kind that would, under the law of the Northern Territory relating to the protection of the environment, be required to be included in an environmental impact statement in relation to the proposed mining works;
(ix) proposals for rehabilitation;
(x) proposals for minimising social impact;
(xi) projected production capacity and scale of operations;
(xii) infrastructure requirements; and
(xiii) terms and conditions relating to payment;

(b) the name, position and qualifications of the person or persons, not exceeding 3 in number, who will represent the intending miner at meetings convened pursuant to subsection (5) or, in the event that that person or any of those persons is unable so to represent the intending miner, of any other person authorised to represent the intending miner in lieu of the person who is unable so to represent the intending miner.

The land councils established under the ALRA are to represent the Aboriginal Traditional Owners in negotiations of the agreement. S 46 of the Act also sets out processes for consultation with the Traditional Owners to facilitate this representation effectively. Traditional Owners are to be consulted through meetings organised by the Land Council, and the Land Council can not consent to any grant until it is satisfied that the terms and conditions are reasonable and the Traditional Owners 'understand the nature and purpose of the terms and conditions and, as a group, consent to them' (s 46(4)(a)). The Land Council must also consult 'any other Aboriginal community or group that may be affected by the grant of the mining interest' (s 46(4)(b)), although such a group only needs to be given 'an adequate opportunity to express its view' and its direct consent is not required.

The ALRA also sets out the process for negotiations with the applicant, defining a 'negotiation period', and contains provisions for the determination of the conditions for a grant by an arbitration process when parties have not agreed.

The ALRA contains similar provisions for agreements relating to the grant of exploration licences on Aboriginal Land. Land councils may also enter into these agreements over land that is subject to claim under the ALRA but has not yet been granted Aboriginal title.