Section 40E of the Mining Act 1978 allows Miner’s Right holders to apply for a permit to prospect on land within a granted exploration licence.
The Section 40E Permit System
Permit holders using hand-held tools can gain access to a nominated area of Crown land or certain conservation land on a granted exploration licence, described by graticular blocks, for a period of three months.
Prospecting is limited to Crown land within a granted exploration licence. Crown land for these purposes includes vacant Crown land, pastoral lease land and reserved land for common, mining and public utility.
A permit does not allow prospecting to be carried out within a national park, nature reserve, part of a townsite or another type of classified reserve (such as a cemetery) or private property (such as farmland).
Although consent from exploration licence holders is not required, licence holders will be notified by the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) of the issue of a permit and have 21 days to advise permit holders in licensee statements of any concerns relating to the nominated area.
Prospectors should plan and apply for a permit well in advance of the field trip, to allow for the 21 days advice period before the permit becomes operational (if a licensee statement has not been received). When the permit is issued, access to the exploration licence is not allowed for the first 21 days or until permit holders receive licensee statements, whichever occurs sooner.
Permit system features
A Section 40E permit:
- is issued for three months and is not transferable between parties
- is restricted to a maximum of 10 nominated graticular blocks within one granted Exploration Licence (one block is approximately 310 hectares). The nominated blocks must be in one group and each block must have a common side to another block
- the permit fee applies for each application regardless of the number of blocks being applied for
- may include up to three permit holders who are jointly liable for any activities conducted under the permit
- limits prospecting activities to a depth of two metres from the natural surface
- allows a maximum sample limit of 20 kilograms
- enables prospecting activities to commence on the exploration licence 21 days after the permit issue date or when the licence holder has provided a licensee statement to the permit holder
- does not allow the use of power or hydraulically driven hand-tools
- is subject to standard protective conditions and notes, which can be varied or added to the permit by the issuing officer.
Section 40E Permit applications
With the permit fee (see Fee Schedule), applications can be lodged at any DMIRS Mining Registrar office by using the Mining Act Form 1A or Mineral Titles Online. All applications must be in a person’s name (not a company name) and can include up to three holders. Each holder must have a current Miner’s Right and complete and sign the application form. All applicants are jointly liable for any permit activities conducted. Applications must list the make, model and licence plate for each vehicle to be used on the nominated exploration licence. Permits are issued by the Mining Registrar for the particular mineral field where the relevant land falls.
Issue of permit
Once applications are granted, permit holders will receive a permit and area map, showing the nominated graticular blocks on the Exploration Licence. Permit holders must forward a copy of the permit and map to any pastoralist affected, before commencing prospecting. DMIRS will notify exploration licence holders by mail, with a copy of the permit and map.
Other aspects to note:
- permit holders cannot apply for a permit to access an exploration licence if they already hold a permit over any part of the same licence.
- people can apply for more than one permit for different exploration licences at the same time, however, these permits operate concurrently – start times cannot be staggered to suit applicants.
- there can be more than one permit over the same graticular block, but held by different permit holders.
Permit surrender, cancellation and expiration
The following rules apply:
- Permit holders can surrender permits by lodging a notice in writing to the department. Each permit holder (if there is more than one) must sign the notice. Permits should be handed back, if available (regulation 4j).
- The Minister for Mines and Petroleum (Minister) may cancel the permit for various reasons, with the department notifying permit holders in writing.
- Permits automatically expire three months after being issued, or when the relevant exploration licence is no longer in force, or when a mining lease, general purpose lease, special prospecting licence or retention licence is granted over the land, in which case the department will notify the permit holder in writing.
The Minister may exempt any exploration licence or area from the operation of the permit system. Any current permit within the relevant area will not be affected.
Obligations and penalties
The following obligations apply:
- Licence holders’ activities take precedence over permit holders’ prospecting activities. Prospecting is not permitted to take place within 100 metres of any licence holders’ activities.
- If vehicles other than those nominated on the permit application are to be used, Exploration Licence holders need to be given prior notice.
- Land disturbances need to be filled or made safe after prospecting activities conclude and all waste materials, rubbish, etc must be removed from the area prior to leaving.
- Permit holders who breach the system could be liable for a fine of up to $5000; have their permits cancelled; and may be disqualified from obtaining another permit for up to three years.
- Permit holders must advise exploration licence holders and DMIRS of any mineral recovered within 14 days of permit expiry, cancellation or surrender.
Advice of minerals recovered within section 40E permit area.
Licensee statements are written statements by exploration licence holders, setting out their wishes in relation to any proposed permit prospecting activities.
Permit holders are responsible for their safety when operating on Exploration Licences and must comply with the Mining Act and Regulations at all times. Holders should be certain what portions of the applied for graticular blocks are not available for prospecting - such as any private or reserved land. DMIRS will supply a Tengraph map when permits are issued.
Tengraph is a computer-based graphical system that shows the boundaries of mining tenements throughout Western Australia. This system is freely available at the department’s Mining Registrar offices, head office or website.
Registration is required to allow online access to the system by contacting the department’s HELPDESK on (08) 9222 0777.
Graticule or graticular section and a block involve earth surfaces being divided by predetermined lines of latitude and longitude into regular units of land. These lines are known as graticules and the units of land created are called graticular sections. The basic graticular section under the legislation is one minute of latitude by one minute of longitude and is called a block (graticular block). The area of a block in Western Australia averages 310 hectares. Find out more by reading information pamphlet titled ‘Exploration Licences Graticular Boundary System’.
Permits can be granted for graticular blocks within boundaries of non-graticular exploration licences. Where graticular blocks are partially captured within non-graticular licence boundaries, permit holders can only prospect on the portion of the block within the boundaries.
Section 40E Permits
- Prior to commencement of prospecting activities, the permit holder must forward a copy of the permit to the holder of any pastoral lease affected.
- No prospecting activities are to commence within the first 21 days of the term of the permit unless a licensee statement under regulation 4H of the Mining Regulations 1981 has been received.
- Prospecting under this permit is restricted to Crown land within the blocks nominated in the permit and to a depth of two metres from the natural surface of the land.
- All disturbances to the land are to be filled or otherwise made safe after completion of prospecting activities and all waste materials, rubbish, etc is to be removed from the permit area prior to leaving.
- Only hand-held tools may be used and the use of explosives and powered or hydraulically driven tools is prohibited.
- No prospecting activities shall occur within 100 metres of any activities being carried out by or on behalf of the holder of the nominated Exploration Licence.
- The permit holder’s attention is drawn to the provisions of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972.
- If vehicles other than those nominated on the application for this permit are to be used, the holder of the Exploration Licence is to be given prior notice.
- The permit holder is required to comply with the prescribed sample or specimen limit of a maximum of 20 kilograms, referred to in regulation 4 of the Mining Regulations 1981.
- The permit holder is required to advise the holder of the Exploration Licence and the department of any minerals recovered within the permit area within fourteen (14) days of the expiry, cancellation or surrender of the permit.
Find out more about the Section 40E permit system.