In addition, the definition of mineral also includes in s 6(2)(f):
‘a product that may be extracted or produced by an underground gasification process for coal or oil shale (mineral (f)) and another product that may result from the carrying out of the process (also mineral (f));
Examples of underground gasification processes –
combustion, consumption, heating, leaching and reaction
‘Oil shale’ is defined in s 318AD of the MRA as ‘shale or other rock (other than coal from which a gasification or retorting product, as defined in the (P&G Act), may be extracted or produced.’
In turn, s 10(1)(c) of the P&G Act defines ‘petroleum’ to include:
‘a fluid that–
is extracted or produced from coal or oil shale by a chemical or thermal process or that is a by-product of that process and consists of, or includes, hydrocarbons.’
Example of a fluid that is petroleum under paragraph (c)–
Finally, s 10(2) of the P&G Act also provides that a substance mentioned in s 10(1)(c) is a gasification or retorting product. The applicants drew attention to definition of oil shale in the MRA and the words ‘from which a gasification or retorting product as defined in the P&G Act, may be extracted or produced’. Essentially, the applicants argued that the substance mentioned in s 10(1)(c) of the P&G Act was imported into the definition of ‘mineral’ in the MRA. If the proposition were accepted, it would follow that a finding that the applicants were not targeting a mineral would be erroneous.
However, the Minister for Natural Resources and Mines (respondent) alternatively drew attention to the reference in the definition of ‘mineral (f)’ to a product that may be extracted or produced by an ‘underground gasification process’ for oil shale. The respondent compared that definition with the reference in s 10(1)(c) of the P&G Act to a fluid that is extracted or produced from oil shale by a ‘chemical or thermal process’. The respondent also drew attention to the fact that s 318AD of the MRA is contained in a chapter of the MRA headed ‘Provisions for coal seam gas’.
At the outset, North J found that the P&G Act and the MRA do indeed contain contrary indications as to whether the definition of oil shale in s 318AD is intended to be limited to chapter 8 of the MRA, or is alternatively intended to be of broader application throughout the Act.