Minerals permitting improvement programme

Publish date: 23 April 2024

We are implementing an ongoing improvements programme for our minerals permitting systems and processes to ensure we are an effective, consistent, and timely regulator.

This Government supports the strategic and responsible development of New Zealand’s extensive mineral resources.

In playing our part as a fair, consistent, and timely regulator, we recognise prospective applicants and current permit holders need to know what to expect from us, and what is expected from them.

An improved minerals permitting system means an improved experience and more certainty for planning work programmes. It also means a better managed mineral estate on behalf of New Zealand.

Progress on the minerals permit application queue

The minerals permit application queue has steadily increased since July 2020, in correlation with the rising price of gold.

In addition to volume, we have identified several bottlenecks in our system for accepting and processing applications. Some relate to our internal systems and processes, and others relate to the quality of the applications we are receiving, both of which ultimately hold up the system.

Over the last year, we have implemented changes to improve our efficiencies. These improvements are already having a positive impact. As at mid-December 2023, there were 265 applications in the minerals queue, down from the peak of 305 in mid-July 2022. This reduction is despite sustained high numbers of applications being received during this period.

Focus on resolving outstanding minerals permit applications

We are working to resolve almost 150 outstanding minerals permit applications by the end of the financial year.

The outstanding list includes new permit applications and changes to existing permits lodged before 1 July 2023. The agency is aiming to progress all of them to the point where a decision can be made by 30 June 2024.

For many of the outstanding applications, we are waiting on applicants to provide updated or further information, so to reduce the queue, we need the support of the sector in providing what has been requested.

Feedback from the sector

We have heard feedback from the sector that our correspondence, documents and website can be confusing and lack plain English.

We are currently reviewing our letters with a view to simplify language and be clearer about why we are writing and any action we require. You will see these changes implemented progressively over this year.

New guidance available for applicants

Following targeted engagement with the sector, we have published the first 3 documents in our series of bundled guidance to make it easier to apply for specific permit types. These documents aim to support applicants to produce quality applications.

This guidance is living, and we will update on an iterative basis. We welcome feedback or improvement suggestions that we can incorporate into future versions.

Other improvements

We are rolling out an improvement programme to ensure minerals permit applicants have the resources they need to produce quality applications and meet their legislative obligations.

In the first half of 2024, key deliverables of our improvement programme include:

  • Issuing clearer guidance relating to how NZP&M assesses applicants’ financial capability.
  • Publishing clearer, bundled guidance to make it easier to apply for specific permit types. Some of this information currently exists on our website but, as has been pointed out, is not always easy to understand or access. Our goal is to take the guesswork out for applicants.
  • Developing standards for permit plotting (maps) with guidance to support applicants.
  • Aiming to progress and resolve our longest held applications. We will shortly be in contact with these applicants where we require additional information.

Targeted consultation with sector

We will be undertaking targeted consultation as this work develops and encourage the sector to provide robust feedback when there are opportunities.

If you have questions about this work, please contact nzpam@mbie.govt.nz

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