If you are entering into a Conduct and Compensation Agreement (CCA) with a Coal Seam Gas company you may want to consider asking certain questions. Quite often it is the little things that cause the most impact and unfortunately thinking that common sense will surely prevail is not an option.

For our family negotiating with mining companies has been a stressful and frustrating experiences at times.

Individually, mining company employees are genuinely nice people. But they have a job to do. You may welcome them into your home and offer them morning tea. But they are not guests. You have a business and assets to protect. Guests can be asked to leave.

Mining companies have the legal right to access the minerals under your Freehold land. They do not however, own the access routes. The landowner does.

And so the negotiations begin…

In Queensland, Agforce Projects and the CSG Commission provide information to landowners who must negotiate a CSG CCA. There are also lawyers who specialise in this area. But still the farmer has to own the process.

You have to take the time to think about all the ‘what if’ questions that may impact your business from mining activity on your land. Remember, not all land liaison officers are equal.

There are some shocking stories of people who have been  told one thing and given a CCA with a completely different set of agreements. That is why it is so important to document everything. And this includes:

  1. How much are you willing to pay me for my time?
  • As a business operator a farmer’s time has a price
  1. What infrastructure goes into a paddock impacted by CSG activities?
  • Water pipelines
  • Exploration wells
  • Loss of cropping area
  • Total footprint of the project
  1.  What is the wash down procedure?
  • What type of wash down procedure do you undertake?
  • What is the process involved in the wet wash your company does?
  • What is involved in this activity?
  1. Please define what you believe to be wet weather?
  • Stipulate a wet weather event involves how many ml of rain?
  1. What will be the procedure if a breach of the CCA occurs?
  • Gates must be left as they are found – What will happen if gates are left open?
  • If your companies do not comply, what is the agreed procedure that will be followed?
  1. Who is your company representative authorised to negotiate and agree to conditions on a CCA?
  • Time is a valuable resource and it is frustrating when it’s wasted speaking to the wrong people.
  1. What is your negotiation time-frame?
  • It is important to establish the guide posts. Some companies have an annoying habit of contacting property owners with a document that needs to be signed immediately to allow work to be carried out.
  1. Do you understand this is not only our place of business but also our home?
  • For many landowners the impact of having uninvited visitors on their property is significant. It is important to ensure people entering your property do so with respect and understanding of your expectations.
  • You cannot assume the gas companies are ensuring their workers and contractors make this connection.

Seven is a small number. In reality, once you research and investigate the potential impact coal seam gas exploration can have on farming enterprises you will create a much longer list for your business.

The important thing is to start. Coal seam gas mining is not going to end soon. If in doubt about what to do, ask yourself what would be the cost of inaction to your business and if you could afford that price.