New mining law centre to strike balance between industry and community

10 Dec 2013

Fair negotiation of landowner compensation for coal seam gas extraction is one of the much-needed projects at the heart of Queensland’s new mining law research centre which opened on 7 November.

The University of Queensland’s Centre for International Minerals and Energy Law (CIMEL) aims to identify the best legal framework to protect individuals and the community while also supporting industry innovation and sustainability.

CIMEL Director Dr Tina Hunter says the centre will collaborate and build partnerships with UQ’s existing mining research centres, the legal profession and the mining and energy industries.

“We are the first centre to really be getting our teeth into the legal issues around coal seam gas extraction, such as the conduct and compensation agreements between industry and landowners,” Dr Hunter said.

“Until now, there has been a significant lack of research or research centres pertaining to such issues, particularly in Queensland, for example looking into what happens after landowners sign on the dotted line for coal seam gas extraction on their land.”

The centre will also provide a comprehensive online public resource, and will be seeking participants for its various studies while building meaningful partnerships across mining, legal and community groups.

“By drawing on UQ’s significant interdisciplinary expertise, CIMEL can work closely with mining and energy lawyers to adopt a holistic approach to researching and solving some of the challenges posed by, and facing, these globally important industries,” Dr Hunter said.

“An examination of the way landowner compensation agreements are negotiated is one example where our research seeks to arrive at a process which is fair and equitable for all parties involved, or can be used to inform legislative reform in these matters.”

This UQ advantage was demonstrated with a presentation on another of CIMEL’s research collaborations with The University of Queensland Business School.

Working with industry partners, the joint project will assess the relationship between regulation and innovation within the coal seam gas industry.

“Regulatory burden can contribute to a decline in the discovery of new resources and adds cost and complexity to resources extraction and operations,” Dr Hunter said.

“Our aim is to identify an optimum framework for regulation which provides effective protection for individuals and communities, but also improves innovation and industry sustainability.”