This was reported in The Australian in May but has recently hit TV news.
The first map shows current Petroleum Exploration Licences.
The next shows applications not yet approved as licences and by far the largest area are Petroleum Special Prospecting Authority Applications by the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) – approx three-eighths of the State.
The main area of applications that is not NSWALC is the block in the NW corner of the State, north of Broken Hill which is by Northern Territory Oil Limited. Some areas with darker colours might be overlapping applications by competing parties. The NSWALC has very recently become noticed in the world of mineral exploration too, making “expressions of interest” EoI for two uranium exploration areas in the State, exactly which areas I do not know.
I wish the NSWALC well in their brave venture but it is worth pointing out that petroleum exploration is a high risk very expensive venture where multi-million dollars are sunk into mother earth often for no return. A typical oil & gas drill hole costs several millions and the chances of success are low. Before drilling there are expensive seismic surveys to run and expert consultants do not come cheap.
In Australia the States (or Crown) own the vast majority of mineral rights – farmers and graziers only own or lease surface rights. The States licence competent exploration companies to explore for minerals, coal, oil and gas.
There are arduous conditions on explorers all aimed at ensuing that the mineral wealth of the State is explored for diligently and any mining opportunities discovered are exploited in the best interests of all with a minimum of environmental impacts. There are long established laws protecting the rights of landowners and occupiers while exploration companies access their lands.
Minerals are worth about $20Billion per year to the NSW economy – most from coal – and mining operations occupy a very tiny area of the State – while agriculture occupies vast areas but the income generated is less than $10Billion per year.
“Mining” has had a very bad press in recent years from opponents of coal seam gas and coal exploration. This is being made worse now by the ICAC hearings into ex Labor Govt scandals around the issuing of coal mine rights in the Bylong Valley in the Upper Hunter north-east of Mudgee. At the ICAC site look for Operation Jasper. There will be collateral damage to metals exploration from this jaw dropping ex Labor Govt coal scandal.
I notice SBS TV is promoting an anti-mining TV documentary right now.
From the other point of view, there is also recent publicity from industry pointing out the excess of expensive and often pointless, complex red & green tape that must be complied with. Every dollar wasted on pointless red & green tape compliance is a dollar not spent finding the next mine in New South Wales.
The NSW Govt has a complex task picking a pathway through all these issues in the best interests of all.
It is fascinating that in the midst of all this the NSW Govt accept petroleum applications for ~37.5% of NSW from a group with no track record or expertise in any type of resource exploration – that I am aware of.