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|During the last two decades, restrictions on access to land for mineral exploration and development in Australia have intensified. State and Federal legislation relating to Aboriginal land rights, national parks, marine parks, wilderness areas and other conservation areas, the surface rights of farmers in New South Wales and Western Australia, national, State and world heritage, urban developments and acquisition of land by governments for other purposes have all placed limits on mineral exploration and mine development activity. More than 20% of Australia's land area is now either unavailable for mineral exploration or available only under severe constraints. Access to this land is denied at a significant economic cost to the Australian community. There have been few attempts to quantify this cost. More importantly these restrictions have developed on an ad hoc basis promoted by single interest government departments often with little regard for rational land use planning. The mining industry has embraced the community's conservation ethic and accepted that conservation areas should be set aside and that within those areas mineral activity should be restricted. In some cases the restrictions on exploration near areas of outstanding scientific, historical, archeological or scenic importance may amount to an effective prohibition. The industry has vigorously opposed the exclusion of mineral activity in conservation areas on purely emotive grounds, unsupported by scientific evidence and in disregard of land use potential, consideration of multiple use potential or consultation with existing or potential land users likely to be effected.|