Crown Minerals Act regime

The Crown Minerals Act 1991 sets out the broad legislative framework for the issuing of permits to prospect, explore and mine Crown-owned minerals within New Zealand.

What are Crown-owned minerals

Crown-owned minerals include petroleum, gold, silver and uranium. The Crown, may also own the minerals on or under Crown land.
In some cases the Crown also has rights to certain minerals in some private land. There are also some cases of private mineral ownership on or under Crown land.

What the Act does

The Crown Minerals Act provides for:

  • the issuing of minerals programmes for the allocation of rights to prospect, explore or mine Crown-owned mineral resources
  • the financial return the Crown receives in exchange for those rights
  • conditions on permits to encourage responsible resource development in line with good practice
  • the collection of information on the mineral estate by the Crown, to promote efficient management of resources, and to promote informed investment decisions
  • rules for entry onto land to prospect, explore or mine the Crown’s minerals, including limitations on entry to areas of special importance to Māori and to areas of particular conservation value.

The Minerals Programme

Details of how the Crown Minerals Act is administered and applied are set out in:

  • the Minerals Programme for Petroleum
  • the Minerals Programme for Minerals (excluding petroleum)
  • associated regulations.

The Minerals Programmes set out the policies and procedures followed for the allocation of mineral resources, while the requirements to be met by permit holders are defined in the regulations and their permits.

The Programmes set out specific requirements for consultation with iwi and hapū, including the matters that must be consulted on (such as all permit applications) and the consultation principles.

The Act, Programmes and regulations are available on the New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals website(external link).

2018 Cabinet decisions regarding changes to the regime

The following bill and regulatory impact statement were submitted to Cabinet as part of the process to give effect to the 12 April 2018 Government announcement to not offer any future offshore petroleum exploration permits.

Paper Date
Crown Minerals (Petroleum) Amendment Bill [PDF, 179 KB]  24 September 2018
Regulatory Impact Statement: Proposed changes to the Crown Minerals Amendment Act 1991 [PDF, 6.6 MB] 3 September 2018
Cabinet Paper: Final policy decisions for tranche one of the Crown Minerals Act 1991 review [PDF, 539 KB]  3 September 2018
Cabinet Paper: Proposed changes to the Crown Minerals Act 1991 [PDF, 676 KB] 2 July 2018

Summary of 2013 amendments

Below are listed the main Amendments made to the Crown Minerals Act 1991 under the Crown Minerals Amendment Act 2013. The new regime came into force on 24 May 2013.

  • Purpose statement: Include a purpose statement in the Act promoting development by providing for efficient allocation of rights to minerals, effective management and regulation of those rights, the carrying out of activities in accordance with good industry practice, and ensuring a fair financial return to the Crown.
  • A two-tiered system for permit management: Distinguish between the relatively small number of complex, higher-return petroleum and mineral activities (referred to as “Tier 1”) and the larger number of lower-return industrial, small business and hobby mineral operations (referred to as “Tier 2”). Tier 1 activities will be subject to a more hands-on, coordinated management and regulatory regime and Tier 2 to a simpler and more streamlined management regime.
  • Health and safety and environmental matters: Improve coordination between the Crown Minerals permitting regime and health and safety and environmental regulatory functions for Tier 1 activities by introducing an initial assessment of health and safety and environmental capability; annual review meetings; and focusing regulatory effort away from those permit holders with only a financial interest in a permit and onto those responsible for day-to-day management of activities. This will support but not replicate processes under the Resource Management Act 1991, Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012, and Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992.
  • Integrating health and safety into the permitting process: Ensure collaboration among regulators to ensure health and safety is considered throughout the permitting process and provide that compliance with health and safety legislation is a general condition of permits.
  • Engagement with iwi on Crown minerals: Provide for permit holders to report annually on the engagement they have undertaken with iwi and hapū whose rohe includes the permit area or may otherwise be directly affected.
  • Use of information provided by permit holder: Provide greater certainty about which information will be kept confidential, and when other information provided to the Ministry can be provided to other regulators and external advisors.
  • Permit duration and relinquishment: Increase maximum permit duration and flexibility to oversee work programme compliance over multi-year periods.
  • Simplifying the process for revoking permits: The simplified procedures limit the current scope that a permit holder has to avoid revocation.
  • Compliance mechanisms: Enhance the existing compliance mechanisms, including increasing the penalties for offences above the rates set in 1991 and updating the powers of enforcement officers and provisions relating to revocation of permits.
  • Status of minerals programmes: Replace the sections of the Act applying to minerals programmes, clarifying their purpose, legal status, and the process that must be followed in their preparation.
  • Transfers and dealings: Streamline the provisions relating to transfers and dealings – those sections of the Act that relate to the transfer of permits or entering into agreements that affect the operation of permits.
  • Transitional arrangements and grandfathering: Provide for the transition of current permit holders to the new regime.
  • Engagement with iwi on Crown minerals: Provide for permit holders to report annually on the engagement they have undertaken with iwi and hapū whose rohe includes the permit area or may otherwise be directly affected.
  • Protection for permitted activities: Define offences related to intentional damage to, or interference with, activities carried out through permits issued under the Crown Minerals regime.
  • [for minerals not petroleum] Continental Shelf Act 1964: Import the minerals provisions of the Crown Minerals Act for all new Continental Shelf Licence applications to bring the Continental Shelf Act regime for minerals into alignment with the current practice for petroleum in the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.
  • [for minerals not petroleum] Royalties: Update royalty rates for minerals that are currently subject to Ministerial discretion (e.g. ironsands) and revisit rates for coal, gold, and silver.