Tagged: "Coal"

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Time to clean up the mining industry’s community consultative committees

Posted on 11 April 2014

MEDIA RELEASE - 11 April 2014

mine cut

The Greens NSW spokesperson on mining, Jeremy Buckingham, today called on the government to reform the regulations around mining community consultative committees (CCC) after it was revealed that one woman, Margaret Macdonald-Hill was employed as the independent chair of 15 different CCCs by seven different mining companies and that her payments have not been disclosed.

Gary West, former Nationals MP, former mining minister and current Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) member and Northern Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) member also chairs the Integra Vale CCC, the Ulan coal CCC, Moorlaben coal CCC, and the BHP Caroona CCC for undisclosed sums.

The Department of Planning Guidelines for CCCs make it clear that payments to the ‘independent chair’ should be disclosed on the website:

“If such fees or expenses are paid, then the company should indicate that this is occurring on the company’s website, so that the broader community remains fully informed.”

“I cannot find a single instance where a resource company has publicly declared the payments to the ‘independent chair’ of their CCC.  These companies are in breach of the planning department’s rules,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“Undeclared payments directly from the mining company undermine the independence of the chair and the community’s confidence in the CCC.  The current system means that the community often perceives the ‘independent chair’ as simply a stooge of the mining company.

“The regulations should be changed so that the ‘independent chair’ is appointed and paid by the government, not by the mining companies.   The chair’s payment should be publicly disclosed by the government.

“The Greens want reform of the CCCs because communities have lost all faith in them and see them more as a facade on consultation that simply does the companies bidding and ties up the community.

“It’s an outrageous conflict of interest that former Nationals MP Gary West can be paid by coal companies to chair CCCs, and then also have a role as a decision maker with the PAC and JRPP.  Gary West is notoriously pro-coal and was on the PAC that approved the controversial Maules Creek coal mine.

“The government must clean up with part of the mining sector.  The people of NSW are sick of corruption and cronyism.  The Greens will continue our push for clean politics,” he said.

Contact: Max Phillips - 9230 2202 or 0419 444 916

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Greens introduce bill to prevent mining in the Central Coast catchment

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Greens introduce bill to prevent mining in the Central Coast catchment

Posted on 04 March 2014

MEDIA RELEASE - 4 March 2014

The Greens NSW spokesperson on mining Jeremy Buckingham today introduced legislation into the NSW Legislative Council to stop mining and exploration in the Central Coast drinking water catchment saying it will test Premier Barry O’Farrell’s credibility.  Water not coal

The Central Coast Drinking Water Catchments Protection (No ifs, no buts, a guarantee) Bill 2014 prohibits mining and exploration activities in the seven drinking water catchments of the Central Coast - the Mangrove Creek Dam, Mardi Dam, Ourimbah Creek, Wyong River, Porters Creek, Mangrove Creek Weir and Mooney Mooney Dam catchment areas.

“This bill gives Premier Barry O’Farrell and members of his government the opportunity to fulfil their clear election commitment to the people of the Central Coast that mining and exploration would not occur their – “no ifs, no buts, a guarantee”.

“Before the last election Barry O’Farrell made a clear promise to the people of the Central Coast,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

Former Resources Minister and Member for Gosford, Chris Hartcher, wrote a letter to residents of Yarramalong and Dooralong stating:

“If necessary, special legislation will be introduced into the Parliament to protect
the Wyong water catchment.”

Mr Buckingham said: “This will be a test of whether Premier Barry O’Farrell is a man of his word, or whether he’ll say one thing to voters and do another thing in power.  It goes to the heart of his credibility.

“By saying one thing and then doing another, Barry O’Farrell has undermined any confidence that people had in his government’s ability to protect their communities.”

“Barry O’Farrell is Premier of this state.  He made a commitment and he can’t now pretend he is powerless to do anything.  This bill provides an opportunity for action instead of excuses.”

“I intend to move this bill by contingency on Thursday,” said Mr Buckingham.

Contact: Max Phillips - 9230 2202 or 0419 444 916

Video footage of Barry O’Farrell delivering is ‘No ifs, no buts’ guarantee is available here.

Attachment 1: The Central Coast Drinking Water Catchments Protection (No ifs, no buts, a guarantee) Bill 2014

Attachment 2: Bill briefing note

Attachment 3: Chris Hartcher’s letter to Central Coast residents

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Let’s fix the Petroleum (Onshore) Amendment Bill 2013

Posted on 27 November 2013

Let’s fix the Petroleum (Onshore) Amendment Bill 2013

The Government’s Petroleum (Onshore) Amendment Bill 2013 introduced back in May has been delayed until March 2014. This gives stakeholders the opportunity to comment on the Bill and the Land Access Code, with a view to strengthening landholders’ rights and protection of the environment.

NSW Farmers said the code would be a positive outcome and and feel that the improvements are a “step forward”.

Alan Jones and Lock the Gate have expressed strong concerns about the permit provisions, because they can operate as a backdoor to coal seam gas expansion. The Shooters and Fishers party are also opposed to the permit provisions, and want landholders to have the right to say no.

Currently, both the Bill and Land Access Code fail in significant ways. The passing of the Bill will be used by the gas industry and the government to justify the roll out of the industry, despite lacking a social licence.

The Government was clear that the bill would only proceed when a broad consensus was reached, so it is important to let key members know that significant improvements are needed to fix the Bill.


Protect & strengthen landholders’ rights

  1. Give landholders the right to say no to coal and gas companies. Remove arbitration provisions that allow mining company being able to force their way on to a property through arbitration. This means mining companies and landholders must come to a voluntary access agreement. This levels the playing fields between miner and landholders, and reflects the sentiment of political leaders such as Tony Abbott, Ian Macfarlane and Barnaby Joyce.
  2. Oppose provisions relating to access permits for ‘environmental assessment’ and ‘surveys and sampling’. These provisions are dangerous, because they bypass any need for an access arrangement between the titleholder and landholder. Such provisions do not even require the permit holder to hold an exploration licence, which means a much wider class of persons can potentially access their land. Activities permitted by ‘surveys and sampling’ are so broad in scope that such permits could potentially act as pseudo exploration. [The government’s proposal to add a ‘note’ to these provisions doesn’t limit the scope sufficiently to prevent these provisions from being used as a loophole to petroleum production.]
    • Require 28 days’ notice and consultation for entry permits – to ensure that there is some degree of notice and consultation with landholders who are affected by entry permits. This is the bare minimum that should be done in order to make these invasive provisions less disruptive to landholders. [Government’s proposed amendment to s 104W partially does this]
    • Increase penalty for breach of permit condition –to act as an adequate deterrent to breaches. Considering the already invasive nature of permits, and the absence of any legislatively enshrined protections for landholders regarding the manner in which they are exercised, it is absurd that such a minimal penalty is proposed. [Government’s amendment now does this]
    • Extend landholder immunity from liability to circumstances where unauthorised 3rd parties enter their property – such as in situations where, for example, NOW, EPA, fire service enters a landholder’s property to deal with a gas emergency. Landholders should not face the risk of being sued in relation to petroleum related activities on their property.
  3. Maintain the provision for companies to get consent from neighbouring landholders for seismic surveys on public roads – so that existing protections are not done away with. [Government’s ‘paper roads’ amendment addresses one aspect of this, but would still allow seismic testing on public roads which is against the wishes of many councils and those residents living within 200 m of public roads.]
  4. Extend exclusion zones for exploration and production from 200 metres to 2000 metres to all homes in NSW, including rural dwellings – to enshrine in legislation the protections given to most (but not all) residential areas in the state by virtue of the 2 km coal seam gas exclusion zone Mining SEPP. Critically, the 2 km exclusion zone SEPP still allows pipelines to be constructed within the 2 km exclusion zone.
  5. Replace definition of ‘cultivated land’ in Petroleum Act with ‘agricultural land’ from Mining Act – so that agricultural land (particularly grazing land which has no protections) has stronger legislated protection than that currently provided by the ‘cultivated land’ definition.
  6. Retain power of Minister/DG to suspend operations for breach of access agreement – in order to protect landholders from coercive or intimidating mining companies. Landholders may not always be in a position to assert their rights, and it is a perverse proposition for the Government to give away this power over recalcitrant mining companies.
  7. Reduce time limit to bring proceedings against landholders who ‘lock the gate’ to 3 months – as landholders should not have to live with the fear of prosecution for simply refusing access.
  8. Mandatory to make the access code by regulation – so that this isn’t left to the discretion of the Minister. As the access code is meant to be the backbone of a land access agreement in order to protect landholders’ interests and the environment, it is essential that the Minister prescribes the code at the earliest opportunity.


Fix arbitration provisions

  1. Introduce ‘no worse off’ principle into negotiating access agreements – so that access agreements are made with an overriding principle that the landholder is in no worse a position financially or the land environmentally as a consequence of the miner exercising its rights to obtain access. Currently it is the landholder who bears all the risk for mining exploration, and given that they have no right to say no, landholders should not be forced to effectively subsidise mining exploration.
  2. Introduce principle that land access negotiations must be undertaken in good faith – which means parties engaged in land access negotiations must demonstrate to the Director General that they have negotiated in good faith before seeking appointment of an arbitrator. This will prevent situations where the miner skips straight to forced arbitration, demonstrated by KEPCO against Craig Shaw in Bylong, and Yancoal against Julia and Colin Imrie in the Upper Hunter.
  3. Extend the negotiation period before forced arbitration. The current negotiation period before forced arbitration is a total of 56 days. This should be extended to at least 180 in order to allow landholders to obtain the requisite legal and expert advice to assist their land access negotiations. [The government’s amendment of 14 days’ notice for the appointment of an arbitrator does not address this, as this does not fix the inadequate time frame for negotiating an access agreement before the forced appointment of an arbitrator.
  4. Introduce qualification requirements for arbitrators – by requiring that they be legal practitioners of Senior Counsel status, or former judges of the Supreme or Land and Environment Court. This should ensure that arbitrators are sufficiently skilled to deal with complex issues and ensure procedural fairness to parties involved in arbitration.
  5. Allow arbitrators to be replaced – so that the Minister or Director-General may, on application of a party to arbitration proceedings, revoke the appointment of an arbitrator or appoint an alternative arbitrator. To ensure accountability and transparency, the application to revoke an arbitrator or appoint an alternative arbitrator must set out reasons for the request.
  6. Provide for the reimbursement of all legal costs of the landholder, including legal costs relating to arbitration. Legal costs are likely to amount in the tens of thousands, so it would be a significant financial burden for landholders to cover even a portion of this cost, particularly if a landholder does not want to grant access. Without mining companies being forced to pay the legal costs during arbitration, miners will be more inclined to skip straight to arbitration where landholders are severely disadvantaged with the burden of punitive legal costs.
  7. Ensure landholders have the right to legal representation during arbitration. There is currently no right for landholders to have legal representation during arbitration. This puts landholders at a severe disadvantage when it comes to negotiating access agreements. Landholders or their agents are therefore pitched against mining representatives who are better skilled, qualified and resourced than landholders. In an attempt to level the playing field, landholders should have the right to be represented by a lawyer in arbitration proceedings. [Government’s amendments fixes this]
  8. Procedures used in arbitration should be defined in the regulations. Such procedures are necessary to fix the broken arbitration process and should accord with principles of procedural fairness, natural justice, accountability and transparency. This includes the requirement that a fair and accurate record of the proceedings are recorded and transcribed.


Increase transparency and accountability

  1. Publication of environmental information must be broadened & non-discretionary – so as to require the mandatory release of environmental information relating to the monitoring, recording or assessing of the environmental impacts of petroleum prospecting. Remove the objection relating to ‘commercial disadvantage’.
  2. Remove ‘protected documents’ (voluntary audit) provisions – which otherwise, could potentially allow non-compliant companies to conduct a voluntary audit immediately after an incident in an attempt to cover up wrongdoing. It seems awfully perverse that the Bill provides for mandatory audits, yet potentially allows a company to escape investigation by conducting its own voluntary audit, and thereby avoid scrutiny or prosecution.
  3. Make audits mandatory & extend audits to include the performance of the Department – to ensure that company performance audits are mandatory and to extend them to include the performance of DTIRIS, the department primary responsible for coal seam gas.
  4. Power to suspend licence conditions relating to ‘working of the land’ should not be extended indefinitely – Conditions relating to the “working of the land” is not defined in the Act, and could potentially include conditions relating to the protection of the environment. Such conditions must not be suspended. The premise of a work program is “use it or lose it” and it could potentially allow companies to ‘sit on’ exploration licences. There’s also the issue of transparency - requests for suspension should be included in the definition of ‘environmental information’ so that such suspensions, and conditions attached to them, are publicly available.
  5.  ‘Beneficial interest’ offence should be broadened – [Government’s amendments substantially address this, although penalty still needs increasing] to include the immediate family of the person holding office in an official capacity, and increases the penalty to 5 years imprisonment and 10,000 penalty units.


Miscellaneous amendments in order to ensure clarity etc

  1. Provide a definition for ‘rehabilitation’ - which is currently not defined in the Act. It is important that this term be properly defined in order to ensure that there is a clear and defined standard by which the rehabilitation of coal seam gas operations can be measured.
  2. Require commercial interest rates to be payable for late payment of royalties – removes the discretion for the Minister to impose interest on late payments, by making payment of interest at a commercial rate mandatory.
  3. Prevent compensation for indirect/consequential damage in relation to an inspector’s power of entry – clarifies operation of the proposed s 104E to ensure that compensation excludes the Crown from liability for consequential/indirect damage caused by an inspectors’ exercising their power to enter premises.


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Coal seam gas exclusion zones fail community expectations

Posted on 24 October 2013

Coal seam gas exclusion zones fail community expectations

After considerable public pressure, the Government has finally implemented coal seam gas exclusion zones around certain areas in NSW. These have been implemented via amendments to the State Environmental Planning Policy (Mining, Petroleum Production and Extractive Industries) 2007 [Mining SEPP].

Implementation of these exclusion zones is an admission that coal seam gas is unsafe, and this ban must be extended to include agricultural land, water catchments and sensitive environments.

With this announcement, there is an opportunity to make public submissions on the Stage 2 coal seam gas exclusion zones, critical infrastructure mapping, and strategic agricultural land mapping, which are on public exhibition until 8 November. Make submissions here.

While it’s important to comment on the accuracy of these maps, it’s also important to contact the Government and other members of Parliament to let them know the exclusions don’t go far enough. They don’t protect all residents, they don’t protect water catchments or agricultural land, and they don’t protect our precious environmental areas, such as the Pilliga forest.

Below is information that helps make sense of the latest changes, along with key concerns the Government needs to address to ensure that coal seam gas does not industrialise NSW.


What the SEPP does

  • Introduces coal seam gas exclusion zones on and around residential areas, and on critical industry clusters, and prohibits coal seam gas development in such areas.
  • Maps strategic agricultural land, future growth areas and appoints gateway panel to assess coal and gas projects on BSAL land.
  • Only applies to coal seam gas, not other unconventional gas such as tight sands or shale gas.
  • Applies to new exploration and production activities - not where environmental assessment for development approval has already been notified by the Director General before 10 September 2012.[1]


Residential zones

  • Applies coal seam gas ‘exclusion zones’ to residential land zoned R1, R2, R3, R4 and RU5 (villages).
  • The residential exclusion zones cover 2.344 million hectares across all 152 local government areas of the state.
  • Pipelines are allowed within the 2km ‘buffer zones’,[2] which means there may be pipelines up to the boundaries of residential areas.
  • No publication of residential ‘exclusion zones’ maps – only future growth areas - therefore leaving communities with uncertainty as to whether their land is protected. Leaves individual land owners to check their land zonings with council LEP. Residents may perceive they are protected when in fact they’re not.
  • Excludes rural dwellings from protection, which means these people will be the collateral damage of coal seam gas expansion. This will unfairly impact those living in rural communities and large lot residential areas. Large lot residential areas zoned R5 will not automatically be afforded the protection that other residential areas are given, unless they fit the village criteria. Therefore large lots residential estates such as Waterview Heights in South Grafton,[3] Forbesdale and Thunderbolts residential estates in Gloucester,[4]  and the residential areas around Crookwell, Gunning and Taralga in the Upper Lachlan LGA[5] will not be protected by the exclusion zones.
  • Government is proposing to extend the exclusion zones to seven ‘‘rural-residential’’ villages including parts of Goonengerry, Jerrys Plains, Broke and Bulga; all of Modanville, Camberwell and Sutton Forrest;  and to land earmarked for future housing in 56 council areas.[6]
  • Councils can still opt out of exclusion zones,[7] and although no councils have said they’d opt out,[8] this option will remain into the future, and will lead to risks of undue influence and corruption.


Biophysical Strategic Agricultural Land & Gateway Panel [applies to coal and gas]

  • BSAL guidelines only protect agricultural land that is the ‘best of the best’.
  • Although 2.8m ha of BSAL has been mapped (1m ha more than previously), this is only 3.5% of state.
  • The Director-General of planning will be the one that determines verification certificates for BSAL, not an authority with any experience of agriculture or any independence from the assessment process.
  • Areas mapped BSAL do not provide protection per se, merely means they go through the gateway process which has no power to reject a project.[9]
    • 90 days for Gateway panel to make assessment[10]
    • Section 17H of the Mining SEPP say the Gateway Panel “must determine an application by issuing a gateway certificate in accordance with this Division.” However, if the Gateway Panel runs out of time for their assessment, a certificate with no conditions attached will be automatically issued.
    • Section 17J (3) (a) says that in the event that a proponent fails to provide further information requested by the Panel, they can “reject and not determine the application” but this is not consistent with section 17H.
    • Gateway panel won’t assess projects that were issued with formal assessment requirements before September 2012 (when Gateway was announced)[11] – therefore only three existing mine proposals would need to go through the new gateway panel - Spur Hill mine near Denman, the Bylong Coal Project and the Caroona Coal proposal for the Liverpool Plains.[12] Department of Planning spokesman said a number of projects, such as the Drayton South coalmine proposed near the Darley and Coolmore horse studs, would also be referred to the panel for “advice”.[13]
    • Gateway panel members[14] have already been criticised for having links to the mining industry.
  • Mining on BSAL must also be referred to the Minister for Primary Industries for advice on the project’s impacts under the government’s aquifer interference policy,[15] and to the Commonwealth independent expert scientific committee for advice about water impacts.[16]
  • Exempt from both the exclusion zones and the gateway assessment process are any horse studs or vineyards that gas or mining companies have owned before its draft land-use policy was announced in September 2012. This is a major loophole and will lead to a ‘Swiss-cheese’ effect considering mining companies have been buying up land in the Gloucester and Hunter valleys for years.[17]


Critical Industry Clusters

  • Critical industry clusters only protect horse studs and wineries – not other enterprises such as horticulture, cropping, grazing, dairy, poultry etc
  • No ‘ 2 km buffer zones for CIC’,[18] which means industry can drill up to the boundary.
  • Reduction by 11% of the amount of land that comprises an Upper Hunter ‘‘critical industry cluster’’ of horse studs and vineyards compared to September draft land-use plan[19]
  • Mapping of vineyards has been a complete shambles.[20]
  • In allegations of collusion regarding mapping of CICs, the Department of Primary Industries says “it appears that the two vineyards in Broke owned by AGL were inadvertently omitted from the maps”.[21]


Other key concerns

  • 2 km buffer zone is unscientific and arbitrary – 2 km buffer zones are inadequate when considering that air, light, noise and water pollution can travel many kilometres.
  • Protections only apply to coal seam gas, not other forms of unconventional gas such as tight sands and shale gas, which is increasingly being targeted for exploitation. Northern NSW has tight sand gas deposits, which may well mean the 2 km protections do not apply.
  • Water catchments[22] and other sensitive environments still not protected
  • Insufficient area of land protected - NSW land area is 800,000km2, which is 80 million hectares. Government is saying they’re protecting 5 million hectares of residential and farmland, which is only 6% of the state (3.5% of this 6% is BSAL, which is still open to mining). CSG licences cover approx. 25% of the State. Brad Hazzard says the policy “still allows industry to access 90% of the land area that has the resource”.[23]
  • Protection excluded where project already approved - the buffer zones will not apply to exploration or production licences that have already been approved.[24]  This means that the buffer zones will not protect Gloucester residences from the Stage 1 project approval (pre March 2011)[25] but would apply to Stages 2 & 3. This would mean Metgasco’s drilling near Casino township (pursuant to Richmond Valley Power Station project approval) may be allowed.
  • Strategic regional land use mapping still incomplete - SRLUP maps have only been completed for 2 areas in the state – Upper Hunter and New England North West, therefore leaving most of the state unmapped.
  • Gateway and Mining SEPP do not promote existing rights – such as those that exist in sections 71 & 72 of the Petroleum (Onshore) Act relating to restrictions on exploration and production. Landholders may incorrectly assume that if they do not satisfy the criteria for BSAL, then they have no choice but to allow access. As it stands, landholders have the right to deny access (albeit contested) for exploration under soil conservation works etc and for production on cultivated land.



  • NSW Irrigators “happy to coexist with industry”, but want 2 of the following 3 demands met:[26]
    • detailed baseline data
    • making the aquifer interference policy a binding regulation giving control of water to the Water Minister
    • extending critical industry cluster protection to all irrigation farms
  • NSW Farmers
    • “The exclusion zones apply to towns and population centres, they don’t apply to agricultural land or water. The agricultural land and water is mapped as biophysical Strategic Agricultural Land and that land is not ruled out of development.”[27]
    • “[Gateway] panel lacked teeth.”[28]
    • “this government has chosen to ignore all feedback and deliver effectively the same Gateway Process that was offered up initially for public comment”[29]
    • Wants the aquifer interference policy to have teeth[30]
    • There is no gate in the gateway[31]
  • APPEA – “A policy anchored in blanket no-go zones to “protect” areas from an industry that has been producing natural gas safely in Australia for decades is not a policy based on sound science or experience,”[32]
  • Lock the Gate[33]
  • Lock the Tweed
    • “Lines on a map will not stop air and water borne contaminants from impacting on communities”
    • Cane land or eco-tourism not included as CIC
  • Lismore City Council – wants 2km buffer zone extended to schools (particularly country schools)[34]
  • Tweed Sugar Cane Growers Association - “Intensive cultivation is just not compatible whatsoever with CSG and we will do whatever it takes to protect our farming land.”[35]


Impact on Projects

SEPP seems to confirm that AGL’s expansion of its Camden project south of Sydney cannot proceed, nor its Hunter project. Expansion of the Gloucester project beyond the already approved first phase may also be impossible.[36]

Santos – Mr Baulderstone said Santos would not be affected by the NSW legislation and was happy the state government had agreed to support its Pilliga project and AGL’s Gloucester project.[37]

The Australian article suggests “most of NSW’s 13 CSG operators will be largely unaffected.”[38] [5 October]


Summary of Key Concerns

  • Fails to protect water catchments or sensitive environments (such as the Pilliga).
  • Fails to protect agricultural land (BSAL land will still be mined/drilled via Gateway process).
  • Fails to protect rural residents.
  • Allows councils to opt out from protection, leading to risks of undue influence and corruption.
  • Allows pipelines within the 2 km buffer zone.
  • Does not protect against other unconventional gas exploration, such as tight sands and shale gas.
  • Only protects narrowly defined critical industry clusters – horse studs and wineries.
  • Gives no protection to Gloucester residents where 110 wells have already been approved and where large lot residential estates have not been given residential protection.
  • Diminishes landholders’ perception of their existing rights under the Petroleum (Onshore) Act & Mining Act relating to access agreements and restrictions on exploration and production (albeit limited).


Documents & links

SEPP overview by law firm Clayton Utz

State Environmental Planning Policy (Mining, Petroleum Production and Extractive Industries) Amendment 2013

Strategic Regional Land Use Policy website

Gateway assessment panel & members

[14] http://www.mpgp.nsw.gov.au/?action=page&page=members

[31] http://www.theland.com.au/news/agriculture/general/news/gaps-left-in-gateway/2674380.aspx

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Key documents withheld by Shenhua over coal licence

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Key documents withheld by Shenhua over coal licence

Posted on 02 September 2013

MEDIA RELEASE - 2 September 2013

The Greens NSW spokesperson on mining Jeremy Buckingham is calling on coal giant Shenhua to come clean and allow the release of key documents relating to their exploration licence, after the company blocked twenty key documents from being release with a freedom of information request lodged by the Greens. Shenhua

“I am very disappointed that Shenhua have decided to block the release of key documents relating to how they were granted the exploration licence by former minister Ian Macdonald,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“The departmental assessor has decided to release most of the documents, but the Chinese state-owned company has blocked their release – it’s a real challenge to the transparency of our Australian democratic system.

“Included in the documents blocked from released is correspondence between the former minister Ian Macdonald and the company, as well as the company’s lawyers and treasury regarding special conditions and payments.

“The minimum bid for this exploration licence was $20 million, yet Shenhua ended up paying $300 million.  The Greens requested the documents to find out why they were prepared to pay such a premium.

“Ian Macdonald, the former minister who approved this exploration licence, has now been found by the Independent Commission Against Corruption to have acted corruptly in the allocation of two other coal exploration licences.

“This is one of the largest coal developments in the state’s history, in one of the best agricultural areas, that has attracted fierce opposition from farmers and environmentalists.

“The Shenhua Watermark project is being progressed towards assessment by Department of Planning and it is important that MPs and citizens are able to access key documents relating to this project before it is progressed any further,” said Mr Buckingham.

The company has 40 days in which to substantiate its objection to the release of the documents.  The Greens will challenge any objection.

Attached: Schedule of documents

Contact: Max Phillips - 9230 2202 or  0419 444 916

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Doyles Creek exploration licence should be cancelled and assets frozen as ‘proceeds of crime’

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Doyles Creek exploration licence should be cancelled and assets frozen as ‘proceeds of crime’

Posted on 30 August 2013

MEDIA RELEASE - 30 August 2013

The Greens NSW spokesperson on mining Jeremy Buckingham called on the government to immediately cancel the Doyles Creek mining exploration license which ICAC has found was only granted for the purpose of benefiting his mate, John Maitland and was subject to false and misleading information. ianmacdonaldwine

“Barry O’Farrell must act and cancel this licence, which has now been found by ICAC to have been granted corruptly,” said Mr Buckingham.

Section 125 of the Mining Act, gives the Minister the power to cancel a licence  if the decision-maker reasonably considers that the holder of the authority provided false or misleading information in or in connection with an application or any report provided under this Act for or with respect to the authority’.

“The government should also act to ensure that no one benefits financially from the corrupt granting of this licence.

“This mine has had a stench emanating from it from the very beginning.  Those who have invested in this mine have taken a risk, and the taxpayers of NSW should not have to compensate investors who knew that this mine licence was potentially dodgy.

“This is an enormous win for the local community who have been battling this mine for many years now.  The government should end this saga and let the local people get on with their lives by cancelling this exploration licence.”

Contact: Max Phillips - 9230 2202  or  0419 444 916

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Question on misuse of template land access agreements - 25 June 2013

Posted on 27 June 2013

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Barry’s coal black hole: half billion dollar collapse in coal royalties

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Barry’s coal black hole: half billion dollar collapse in coal royalties

Posted on 18 June 2013

MEDIA RELEASE - 18 June 2013

The Greens NSW spokesperson on mining Jeremy Buckingham said the revelation that coal royalties had spectacularly collapsed by $573 million from the 2012-13 budget forecast, indicated that the era of king coal was at an end and that the government needed to diversify its revenue base.  Coal mine vertical

“A high Australian dollar, collapsing international demand and commodity prices has caught the government short in revenue, with the $1.878 billion 2012-13 royalty forecast revised down to $1.305 billion,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“The government is ignoring the fact that the curtains are closing on the era of fossil fuels with associated collapse in royalty payments.  King coal should be toppled from its throne and NSW should diversify its revenue base.

“The dominance of the mining boom and high Australian dollar has seen manufacturing and services such as education and tourism suffer with an associated hollowing out of the revenue base.

“NSW needs to invest in long term sustainable industries, rather than just be a quarry for Asia.

“Gold royalties are ridiculously low and should be raised, along with royalties on other minerals.  Gold is also exempt from the federal mining tax.

“Not only is coal destroying our climate and agricultural land, but it is no longer the goose that lays the golden egg in terms royalties.

“The government continues to forecast a massive increase in coal royalties, 15.9% in 2013-14, and a 12.8% increase in the four years to 2016-17. The Greens believe these forecasts are ridiculous and not supported by global trends, the international marketplace, nor recent announcements by the coal industry.

“We are no longer a coal state, and a smart government would accelerate the transition to an economy based on renewable energy, manufacturing, sustainable agriculture and services,” he said.

Contact: Max Phillips - 9230 2202 or 0419 444 916

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Government blocking papers on Shenhua Watermark coal mine


Government blocking papers on Shenhua Watermark coal mine

Posted on 09 May 2013

Media Release

9 May 2013

The Greens NSW spokesperson on mining Jeremy Buckingham questioned why the government was repeatedly blocking access to documents relating to the granting of the Shenhua coal exploration licences by disgraced former Minister Ian Macdonald? Liverpool Plains

Mr Buckingham has moved a ‘call for papers’ on the project six times, but each time the government has blocked the motion. The Shenhua Watermark project is currently before the Department of Planning after public submissions closed.

“Why is the National Party covering the tracks of Ian Macdonald on an exploration licence that most people think should never have been granted in such a productive agricultural area,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“Given the serious probity issues relating to other coal licences granted by Ian Macdonald, it is only reasonable that parliamentarians should want to look into circumstances of the coal grants over the Liverpool Plains.

“The government’s constant rejection of this call for papers indicates that they are more concerned with supporting the Shenhua Watermark coal mine than in transparency and probity of the operation of the Mining Act.

“If the government continues to block access, the Greens will move to move the motion by contingency and therefore force a public debate on whether or not these documents should be made public.

“The Shenhua Watermark licence should never have been granted as it threatens the productivity of some of the most fertile cropping country in Australia,” he said.

Contact: Max Phillips - 9230 2202 or 0419 444 916


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Maules Creek mine approval an act of environmental vandalism

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Maules Creek mine approval an act of environmental vandalism

Posted on 25 October 2012

MEDIA RELEASE - 25 October 2012

The Greens NSW spokesperson on mining has condemned the approval of the Maules Creek coal mine by a Planning Assessment Commission today, saying the mine would be an act of environmental vandalism and represented a failure of the O’Farrell Government’s Strategic Regional Land Use Policy.

“This mine will destroy the Leard Forest, an area previously classified as Tier One biodiversity land in the draft Strategic Regional Land Use Plan for the North West,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“The Coalition promised before the election that they would protect ‘sensitive environments’ from mining, but here we have the last remnant woodland on the Liverpool Plains being destroyed for Nathan Tinkler’s open cut coal mine.

“Local farmers will be distraught at this decision and will question whether the National Party is there to represent the bush or the big mining companies and large coal barons?

“The PAC has somehow convinced itself that a 500 metre corridor of forest between the Maules Creek mine and Boggabri coal mine is adequate environmental safeguard, but the reality is a farce that suggests our planning system is broken.

“The Leard Forest was meant to enjoy a level of protection under the Brigalow and Nandewar Community Conservation Area Act 2005 for its ecological significance. Any mining in the area should be underground mining so as to preserve the forest as much as possible. By approving open cut mining, the PAC has undone the NSW Parliament’s intention.

“The 13 million tonnes of coal per year from this mine will contribute to dangerous climate change. NSW should be phasing out coal, not allowing Nathan Tinkler to destroy a forest,” he said.

Contact: Max Phillips - 9230 2202 or 0419 444 916

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