Rules and regulations
The legislative framework for prospecting, exploration and mining Crown-owned minerals in New Zealand is set out in the Crown Minerals Act 1991.
Under the Act, a permit is required to prospect, explore, or mine for minerals that are part of the Crown Mineral Estate, including gold, silver and petroleum.
A permit provides a permit holder the rights to prospect, explore or mine the Crown-owned mineral resource(s) subject to certain conditions, including the responsible development of the resource and, where applicable, the payment of royalties to the Crown.
Under the Act, the Crown collects information on the mineral estate to promote efficient management of resources and inform investment decisions.
How the Crown Minerals Act 1991 is administered and applied is set out in:
- the Minerals Programme for Petroleum [PDF 586KB];
- the Minerals Programme for Minerals (excluding petroleum) [PDF 2.6MB]; and
- relevant regulations.
These programmes set out the policies and procedures followed for the allocation of mineral resources and managing permit changes. They also set out requirements for consultation with iwi and hapū, including the matters that must be consulted on (such as specified permit applications) and the consultation principles.
Previous Minerals Programmes
Permits granted under a previous minerals programme continue to be managed under that programme until a change to the permit is requested or the permit holder opts into the new programme. Note: should a permit holder change to the new programme, the royalty rate of the previous programme will still be applicable.
- Minerals Programme for Minerals (excluding petroleum) - 1 February 2008 [PDF 2MB]
- Minerals Programme for Minerals other than petroleum and coal - 1 October 1996 [PDF 456KB]
- Minerals Programme for Coal - 1 October 1996 [PDF 409KB]
Previous Petroleum Programmes
Requirements that permit holders must meet as defined in our regulations.
- Crown Minerals (Royalties for Petroleum) Regulations 2013 cover royalties and royalty reports for petroleum mining permits granted after 24 May 2013.
- Crown Minerals (Petroleum) Regulations 2007 specify reporting requirements for permit/licence holders. These were last amended on 24 May 2013.
- Crown Minerals (Petroleum Fees) Regulations 2016 covers fees payable for petroleum under the Crown Minerals Act 1991.
- Crown Minerals (Royalties for Minerals Other than Petroleum) Regulations 2013 covers royalties and royalty reports on mining permits. (Permits granted before these regulations fall under the minerals programme at the time).
- Crown Minerals (Minerals other than Petroleum) Regulations 2007 covers requirements and procedures for permit applications, permit changes applications, royalty returns and payments, reporting to the Crown on prospecting and exploration and lodging core and samples with the Crown. These were amended on 24 May 2013.
- Crown Minerals (Minerals Fees) Regulations 2016 covers fees payable for Minerals and Coal under the Crown Minerals Act 1991.
Digital data submission standards and templates
The submission standards below define the formats required for lodging of statutory digital information acquired during prospecting, exploration and mining activities.
Before a company can undertake activities such as exploration drilling, they must they comply with the appropriate environmental legislation.
Onshore and in territorial waters
Local authorities manage environmental consenting processes in their region under the Resource Management Act 1991. Under the Act, Regional Councils are responsible for managing the effects of activities on the environment in territorial waters (0 to 12 nm offshore). Resource consents are usually required for petroleum and mineral activities.
Offshore - more than 12 nautical miles from the coastline
Activities more than 12 nautical miles from the coastline are managed by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) under the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012
The EPA manages the effects of specific restricted activities on the environment in the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf. They consider applications for marine consents, monitor compliance, enforce the Act and promote public awareness of its requirements and associated regulations.
New Zealand’s marine environment is also protected under the Maritime Transport Act 1994, and the marine protection rules that come under the Act. Maritime New Zealand is responsible for ensuring operators have emergency response plans if there is a leak or spill into the sea.
Exploration and prospecting under the EEZ Act
Some petroleum and minerals prospecting activities (and marine research) are permitted activities under the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012. Provided conditions set out in regulations are followed, these activities do not require a marine consent from the EPA.
Environmental monitoring can be required under various legislative regimes or conducted as part of a research programme.
Continental Shelf Act 1964
The Continental Shelf Act vests in the Crown the right to explore and exploit the natural resources of the continental shelf of New Zealand. The CSA provides that permits may be granted over the continental shelf but this is done so under the Crown Minerals Act 1991 framework.
The Department of Conservation (DOC) is responsible for protected species under the Wildlife Act 1953 and Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978. The Department also administers the Code of Conduct for Minimising Disturbance to Marine Mammals from Seismic Surveys
Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011
Applications under the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011 recognise customary interests of iwi, hapū and whānau. The due date for applications was 3 April 2017. The Office of Treaty Settlements is currently assessing all applications.
One function of the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011 (MACA) is to recognise the exercise of the customary interests of iwi, hapū, and whānau in the common marine and coastal area of New Zealand. One form of customary interest that may be recognised under the MACA is customary marine title. One of the rights conferred by customary marine title is the ownership of minerals (except for petroleum, gold and silver).
The MACA is relevant to some permit applicants. Where a permit application relates to a right that would be conferred by customary marine title, it requires those looking to apply for a permit to notify and seek the views of Maori groups who have applied for customary marine title over the area, before they make a permit application. Permit applicants are not required to notify and seek the views of groups who have had their applications for customary marine title declined.
The MACA can give rise to other obligations for permit holders and resource consent seekers. Further information is available on the Ministry of Justice website
Archaeological sites are protected under the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014. Petroleum and minerals permit holders may require permission to undertake activities around these sites from Heritage NZ.
The Biosecurity Act 1993 provides for clearance of goods and management of incoming craft (including floating platforms) to reduce the risk of pests and diseases being introduced.
Health and Safety
All operators and other permit holders must comply with New Zealand’s key work health and safety legislation - the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, together with regulations made under that Act.
The main purpose of the Act is to provide for a balanced framework to secure the health and safety of workers and workplaces. The Act applies to nearly all work in New Zealand and it focuses on both injuries and work-related illnesses.
There are four duty holders that have work health and safety duties under the Act - persons conducting a business or undertaking, workers, officers and other persons at a workplace- and a duty holder cannot transfer or contract out of these duties.