Mining & Resources

Land Access – Pitfalls to Avoid

J WaddingtonExploration and development is imperative for healthy mining and petroleum industry growth. Dealing with the sensitive matter of land access successfully, can make or break the success of a resources project, but what are the most common mistakes made, when it comes to navigating land access issues?

We posed this question to Jamahl Waddington, Managing Director of Maloney Field Services, who shared his top insights on the top 7 pitfalls to avoid.

  1. Poor planning

A land access program requires careful planning and a clear land access plan should be established prior to any consultation activity commencing.

  1. Not correctly identifying landowners and interested parties

All too often, proponents do not correctly identify parties that have an interest in the land and those that require consultation with. Old data or “state” data is often relied upon which can be inaccurate or out of date. It’s critical to undertake a thorough title search of all land impacted to identify all landowners and stakeholders at the start of the project to ensure you are consulting with the correct parties.

  1. Under-estimating the impact of land access

Too often, proponents don’t take the time to understand the land and the operations of the land and how their project will impact upon that land. Proponents need to allocate time and resource to understanding exactly how a property works and what the impact will be.

  1. Compensation

Assessing compensation for resource projects is a specialised task and requires specific skills and experience. All heads of compensation need to be assessed and impacts to the operations of the land quantified. Access to land is required to properly assess compensation and consultation with a landowner to understand the impacts. Often proponents will assess compensation on a “desk-top” basis which is entirely poor practice.

  1. “Good Bloke” syndrome

Proponents will often use “good blokes” in the role of land access. Land Access requires specific skills in negotiation and conflict resolution and an understanding of land, rural issues, land tenure, compensation amongst other skills and merely being a “good bloke” is not sufficient qualification to be a land access consultant.

  1. Allocation of time and resource to land access

Managers often don’t understand or under-estimate land access and generally don’t allocate sufficient time and resource to land access. This will generally result in time pressure or budgetary pressure being applied which in turn is applied to landowners and generally results in a poor outcome. Good early planning by experienced professionals will overcome this problem.

  1. Not seeing the project through to completion

Once a project is constructed or completed, often proponents will de-mobilise and not take the time to “close-out” land access matters or will be slow in closing out land access matters. This may be tardy payment of compensation owed or works agreed to or not entering into sufficient close out documentation.
Want to know more? Jamahl and James Kernaghan, Managing Director of Circle Advisory Pty Ltd will host a half day workshop addressing Navigating land access approvals for NT’s mining, oil and gas projects as part of the NT Week 2015 activities. The half-day session will explore the latest developments, emerging regulatory reforms, challenges, and future directions of land access in the Northern Territory.

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