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Exploration Health and Safety

The WHS (Mines) laws apply to exploration for minerals using mechanical means

The Work Health and Safety (Mines and Petroleum Sites) Act 2013 and the Work Health and Safety (Mines and Petroleum Sites) Regulation 2014 apply to activities carried out for the purposes of exploring for minerals (including coal). They apply in addition to the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017. This consolidated work health and safety legislative framework is administered by the NSW Resources Regulator.

When do the laws apply?

The WHS (Mines and Petroleum Sites) laws do not apply to an activity carried out in relation to the extraction of minerals on private land for the private and non-commercial use of the owner of the land or fossicking.

The extent of duties under the WHS (Mines and Petroleum Sites) legislation depends on whether or not the exploration involves mechanical means that disturb the ground.

Definition of an exploration site

An exploration site is a mine to which the WHS (Mines and Petroleum Sites) laws apply as it is a workplace at which mining operations are carried out. Activities carried out for the purpose of exploring for minerals (including coal) are known as mining activities.

For the purposes of the WHS (Mines and Petroleum Sites) Regulation, an exploration site means a place where activities are carried out for the purpose of exploring for minerals by mechanical means that disturb the ground.

Refer to the Understanding the term 'mining operations' (PDF, 217.12 KB) guide for further information.

Further information

For more information on WHS obligations for exploration read the guideline Exploration, prospecting and work health and safety (PDF, 210.02 KB).

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