Recent changes to the mine subsidence compensation system has prompted Singleton Council to formulate a bold new proposal in regard to the contentious issue of open-cut mine rehabilitation and what a post-mining Hunter Valley will, or could, look like.
Now individual mining companies will be directly responsible for paying for the surface damage they cause when underground mining rather than it being covered by the collective industry levy, our local Council wants to re-direct the surplus funds instead of returning them.
Claiming it is a unique opportunity for New South Wales (NSW) to look at the best possible use of these post-mining landforms, at no additional cost to producers.
They will take their idea to the Local Government NSW Annual Conference in December after the following two motions were passed at Monday night’s meeting.
- The NSW government maintains the current production levy imposed upon coal operations in NSW. That portion no longer required by Subsidence Authority NSW to be used to establish a fund to support and oversee the “best practice” use of mining land post production;
- The NSW Government establish an industry funded body, to facilitate the best use of post-production open cut mined land. The fund to be overseen by a board which would comprise representatives of NSW Government, the mining industry, research institutions and Local Government. The body be charged with overseeing and supporting the “best practice” ecological, economic and cultural use of this land on a district wide basis.
Cr Danny Thompson says this “is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to secure funding” and take a whole of catchment approach to rehabilitation.
“To not pursue this would be travesty, it is in the best interests of the community,” he implores.
“At the moment, we do not know what the economic potential of the voids and the hyper saline water in them may be.”
“Research needs to be done. Local Government has been approached by individuals and higher education institutions to look at such issues, but to date, have not had the funds to support this much needed research.”
He explained mining companies will be looking to move on after their operations have finished and it is in the interest of their shareholders (not the people of NSW) to do so as cheaply as possible.
A fund that allowed them to plan for post mining activities (that may be carried out by other entities) would be in the best interests of the people of NSW and also their shareholders.
Such activities may include industrial applications, agriculture, tourism, parks and recreation. It would be in the best interest of NSW that such applications be planned on whole of district basis.