In NSW, new areas of coal development can be released via the Operation Allocation process or via the Strategic Release Framework for Coal and Petroleum Exploration (Strategic Release Framework). A summary of the two processes is outlined below:

1. Operation Allocation process - allows existing coal exploration, assessment or production titleholders to apply for an additional exploration title to avoid sterilisation of resources, support better mine design or expand existing mining operations. It excludes cases where there is enough coal to support another mining operation.

View the Guide for exploration licence applications for operational allocational allocation purposes.

2. Strategic Release Framework – implements a transparent, strengthened and competitive selection process for issuing prospecting titles for coal and petroleum through the up-front consideration of geological, social, environmental and economic factors, and operator suitability and capability. Release is via closed auction and applicants must meet minimum standards.

New areas for gas and petroleum development can only be released via the Strategic Release Framework.

View more details about the Strategic Release Framework.

The Preliminary Regional Issues Assessment

The Preliminary Regional Issues Assessment (PRIA) is an initial assessment of social, environmental and economic matters relating to areas being considered for coal or petroleum exploration. This assessment involves early engagement with interested and potentially impacted stakeholders to identify issues for consideration as part of the Strategic Release Framework. Find more details about the Preliminary Regional Issues Assessment (PRIA).

It is important to note no part of the Strategic Release Framework replaces the need for a development application if a project seeks to progress to production. Nor will it duplicate or pre-empt the outcome of any future development assessment.

If an explorer is granted an exploration licence and is successful in discovering an economic coal, oil or gas resource they need to apply for a mining lease (for coal) or petroleum production lease and undergo a stringent, rigorous and exhaustive assessment process, including a detailed environmental impact assessment and extensive public consultation, prior to such a lease being granted.

For more information please contact the Department on