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Mark Geritz's experience in energy and resources law, project development, native title and Aboriginal cultural heritage legal issues has seen him recognised as one of Australia's top energy and resources and native title lawyers having been named by independent judges as 2018 Australian Partner of the Year for Energy and Resources Law and 2018 and 2019 Partner of the Year for Native Title Law, following similar recognition in Queensland as judged by peers.

Mark is the go-to energy and resources and native title lawyer for both private and public enterprises, having acted on many of Australia's and the world's largest energy and resources and infrastructure projects.

In the last five years, Mark has acted on the largest coal project in Australia (Adani Carmichael Project), the largest CSG to LNG project in Australia (Australia Pacific LNG Project) and overseen the largest native title settlement in Australia (South West Settlement in Western Australia) which has also involved multiple proceedings in the Federal Court, Full Federal Court and High Court. Mark has also run the largest mining lease objection proceedings in Australian mining history, the Acland Land Court proceedings and then, in landmark judicial review proceedings in the Supreme Court of Queensland, Mark assisted his client set aside the unfavourable Land Court recommendations. This matter is currently in the High Court.

Mark shares his knowledge with clients in valuable workshops offered through Clayton Utz Training Program.

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Expertise

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Energy and Resources

Australia Pacific LNG Project (Origin Energy, ConocoPhillips and Sinopec): Acted in the development of this CSG to LNG project (largest such project in the world) which involved gas field development, construction of a pipeline (in excess of 500km) from the gas fields to Curtis Island and construction of a LNG plant on Curtis island and construction of ancillary onshore and marine facilities. Mark was the primary adviser on all petroleum regulatory, land access and native title and Aboriginal cultural heritage issues, strategic advice, government liaison, overlapping tenure issues and issues dealing with adjacent gas tenures and cross border infrastructure.

Adani Carmichael Coal and Rail Project and Abbot Point expansion (largest coal project in Australia) and Rugby Run Solar Project:  Provided strategic advice on mining lease applications, environmental processes (State and Federal), Land Court proceedings, landowner agreements and land acquisition, make good agreements, overlapping tenure issues, and general regulatory approval processes. Mark drafted multiple native title and cultural heritage agreements for the mine, rail and port. Mark also ran a successful native title arbitration that resulted in a decision that the main project mining lease be granted without conditions. Mark also provided regulatory advice on the Rugby Run Solar Project.

New Hope: Advised New Hope on all stages of the New Acland Project which has involved the largest mining lease objection proceedings in Australian mining history and the historic successful judicial review proceedings in the Supreme Court of Queensland and the Court of Appeal. He is currently acting in the High Court proceedings commenced by an objector to the project. These proceedings have involved every aspect of the development of a resources project.

Senex: Provides regulatory, land access and tenure advice, and drafts and negotiates land access arrangements for Senex on its Project Atlas (to support the Queensland domestic gas policy), Western Surat and Don Juan gas projects.

Mitsui and Beach Energy – Waitsia Gas Project: Acts on one of the largest onshore conventional gas discoveries in Australia. Mark's work includes advising on regulatory issues and drafting relevant native title and Aboriginal heritage agreements with the Southern Yamatji people.

Origin Energy: Primary legal adviser on petroleum regulatory issues, land access and compensation and native title for more than 15 years. This also included acting in the first major petroleum landowner compensation proceedings resulting in a successful judgment in the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Vale: Primary legal adviser on mining regulatory issues, access issues, overlapping and adjacent petroleum tenure issues and has acted on the development of the Belvedere, Ellensfield and Eagle Downs projects and operational issues at the Carborough Downs, Broadlea and Isaac Plains Projects.

Wesfarmers Curragh Coal Project: Primary legal adviser on mining regulatory issues in Queensland for 15 years, including a period on secondment for nine months during the development of the Curragh North Project. Mark has  also advised on the Curragh West and Curragh expansion projects.

Rio Tinto: Assisted Rio Tinto with its Kestrel expansion project including assisting Rio obtain one of the first associated water licences in Queensland.

Meteor Downs South Project: Provided all mining regulatory advice and undertook successful Land Court proceedings against Glencore relating to the development of this project for U&D Mining.

Byerwen, Drake and Jax Coal Projects: Acted on various aspects of the project development for these projects for QCoal including mining lease applications, land access, compensation and native title issues.

Ensham Central Coal Project: Acted for Ensham Resources in the development of the Ensham Central Coal Project. This included developing strategies for dealing with landowners where there were unique flooding issues.

Peabody Burton and North Goonyella Expansion Projects: Acted for Peabody Energy (and its predecessors) on all project development matters for the extension of the Burton Coal Project and expansion of North Goonyella. This included landowner and government negotiations, obtaining of all approvals, and, in the Burton expansion project, advising on the first significant native title compensation case.

MMG Dugald River Project: Mark's work on this project included approvals strategy, landowner access and compensation issues, dealing with a range of infrastructure approvals and proceedings in the Land Court in relation to an objection to a proposed mining lease and environmental authority.

Meandu and Kunioon Coal Projects: Provided Stanwell with regulatory, land access, native title and compensation advice and drafted all relevant documentation associated with the development of the Meandu and Kunioon Coal Projects.  This has recently included resolving complex groundwater issues through a series of make good agreements for the Meandu extension project.

Condamine Power Station Project: Assisted Queensland Gas Company (now Shell) in developing the Condamine Power Station by drafting all operational documentation and advising on the required approvals.

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Native Title

Australia Pacific LNG Project: Acted in relation to all native title and Aboriginal cultural heritage issues and documentation associated with the development of this project. This involved the preparation of 9 Cultural Heritage Management Plans, 6 ILUAs and 4 agreements under s 31(1)(b) of the Native Title Act as well as advice on alternative compulsory acquisition processes for the native title if agreements could not be reached. Mark also assisted in the obtaining of 3 "Part 5 permissions" under the petroleum legislation relating to native title issues.

Adani Carmichael Coal and Rail Project: This project has thrown up some complex native title issues for the client. Mark's work has included:

  • conducting an extensive native title extinguishment analysis for the site of the coal mine, the route of the proposed railway and the port expansion;
  • advising on (and drafting all documents for) multiple, parallel, native title and cultural heritage negotiation processes with a number of different native title groups (both registered and unregistered); and
  • undertaking successful arbitration in the National Native Title Tribunal relating to good faith negotiations and the substantive matter as to whether the main project mining lease should be granted from a native title perspective.

South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council (SWALSC): Acting for SWALSC in the largest native title settlement ever in Australia, which involves the WA Government providing more than A$1.3 billion in benefits to the Noongar people. Mark's role includes complex structuring advice for the settlement, drafting six ILUAs to implement it, and various Federal Court, Full Federal Court and more than 10 High Court proceedings on a number of ground-breaking issues. Mark was also heavily involved in urgent required amendments to the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth).

Northern Territory Government – North Gas Pipeline: The regulatory and native title adviser to the Northern Territory Government for the A$800m Northern Gas Pipeline project. The pipeline will run between the Northern Territory and Queensland, delivering gas from the NT to eastern gas markets. This is a significant project both for the Northern Territory and the Australian economies.

Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) – Inland Rail Project: Advising Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) on all native title and Aboriginal heritage issues related to the development of the project and drafting all relevant documentation. The Inland Rail Project is a new fast speed freight rail connection to be built between Melbourne and Brisbane.

Cross River Rail Delivery Authority – Cross River Rail: Advising and drafting Cultural Heritage Management Plans for this groundbreaking Queensland project.

Destination Brisbane Consortium – Queen's Wharf Development: Acting for the Consortium developing the Queen's Wharf Development with respect to all Aboriginal heritage issues.

Mitsui and Beach Energy – Waitsia Gas Project: Acts on one of the largest onshore conventional gas discoveries in Australia. Mark's work includes drafting relevant native title and Aboriginal heritage agreements with the Southern Yamatji people.

Stanwell: Advised on all native title and cultural heritage issues arising in relation to the establishment and operation of the Meandu and King 2 East Expansion Project.

U&D Mining Limited and Sojitz Coal Mining Pty Ltd: Advised the proponent on all native title and cultural heritage matters in relation to the Meteor Downs South Coal Mine.

QCoal Drake and Byerwen Coal Projects: Acted in a complex "right to negotiate" process related to the proposed grant of six mining leases for the projects. This involved a lengthy negotiation process leading ultimately to referral of the matter to the National Native Title Tribunal, which made a good faith determination and a subsequent determination that the six mining leases could be granted without any conditions relating to native title.

Wesfarmers Curragh Project: Advised Wesfarmers on all native title and cultural heritage issues associated with the development of the Curragh, Curragh West and Curragh expansion projects.

Commonwealth Games Parkland Village, Clem 7, Airport Link, Northern Busway, Legacy Way, Water for Bowen, Glebe Weir, Lower Fitzroy, Nathan Dam, Eden Bann, Rookwood, and Burdekin Falls Dam Projects, Western Corridor Recycled Water Project, the Towns Water Supply Project, the Tank Street Bridge Project Projects: Acted for Brisbane City Council, Coordinator-General and various Government departments and Government owned corporations, providing Native Title and Cultural Heritage advice and drafting a range of native title and cultural heritage agreements.

Abbot Point port expansion project: Acted for the Queensland Government in drafting a multi-party Indigenous land use agreement (including a cultural heritage protocol) for the expansion of the Abbot Point port.

Department of Transport and Main Roads – Toowoomba Bypass : Acted on project delivery and native title and cultural heritage issues arising on the Toowoomba Bypass.

Kunioon and Meandu Coal Projects: Developed an Indigenous Land Use Agreement and numerous Cultural Heritage Agreements for Stanwell's (formerly Tarong Energy) Kunioon Coal Project and has also provided native title and Aboriginal heritage advice and documentation for the Meandu and Meandu expansion projects.

Origin Energy: Acted and acting for Origin Energy on all native title and Aboriginal cultural heritage issues for more than 15 years.

Peabody – Burton Coal Expansion Project: Acted for Burton Coal Pty Ltd (a subsidiary of RAG Australia Coal Pty Ltd and now Peabody Energy Australia Coal Pty Ltd) during the extension of the Burton Coal Project. This included all native title and cultural heritage issues such as negotiating and drafting a CHIMA, section 31 agreement and Indigenous Land Use Agreement, and issuing one of the first notices under the then Queensland Alternative State Provisions Regime (the alternative to the Commonwealth Right to Negotiate Process). He also conducted arbitration and compensation proceedings in the Land and Resources Tribunal (now Land Court).

SEWPAC: Advised the Commonwealth Government on native title issues associated with its proposed nomination of parts of Cape York for the World Heritage Listing, including a possible alternative procedure Indigenous Land Use Agreement.

Native Title and Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Agreements generally: Drafted and advised on Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs), section 31 (right to negotiate) ancillary agreements and Cultural Heritage Management Plans for various other mining, petroleum, power, water, power and pipeline projects, including for Origin Energy, Vale, Stanwell, CS Energy, Queensland Gas Company (now Shell), Cement Australia, SunWater and Seqwater.

Department of Infrastructure and Planning – Hancock Coal Project: Advised the Department of Infrastructure and Planning on various aspects of the Hancock Coal and Rail Project including with respect to relevant native title agreements.

Mt Etna Mine Closure Project: Drafted an Indigenous Land Use Agreement for the Mt Etna Mine Closure Project for Cement Australia to allow for the conversion of unallocated State land to freehold and National Park.

Pisolite Hills and Bauxite Hills Project: Acted for Cape Alumina in relation to the development of its highly publicised Pisolite Hills Project in Cape York.

See Native Title

Knowledge

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