Voluntary Planning Agreement guidelines on agenda as Association of Mining Related Councils meets in Singleton

AMRC EXECUTIVE: Deputy Chair (Coal rep) Cr Chris Conner  - Wollongong City Council, Cr Micheal Banasick  - Wolloondilly Shire Council,  Singleton Mayor, Sue Moore, Deputy Chair (metalliferous rep) Mayor Cobar Shire Council, Lilliane Brady, and Cr Owen Hasler – Gunnedah Shire Council.
AMRC EXECUTIVE: Deputy Chair (Coal rep) Cr Chris Conner - Wollongong City Council, Cr Micheal Banasick - Wolloondilly Shire Council, Singleton Mayor, Sue Moore, Deputy Chair (metalliferous rep) Mayor Cobar Shire Council, Lilliane Brady, and Cr Owen Hasler – Gunnedah Shire Council.

Association of Mining Related Councils (AMRC) Chairperson, Peter Shinton, says negotiations have come to standstill in the process of developing guidelines for Voluntary Planning Agreements (VPA’s).

He says the association and NSW Minerals Council have reached an impasse in regard to how they calculate the total amount of financial compensation, or the “financial quantum” of each VPA.

The minerals council is pushing a “worker domicle model” which is based on an increase in population due to an influx of new workers.

However the AMRC does not support this approach for a number of reasons including: mines are moving to fewer workers yet the same or even more production, and that many miners don’t live in the Local Government Area (LGA) they are working in.

They would like to see the methodology based on “a cents per product tonne of coal or a 1% capital expenditure or a combination of both”.

The association held their quarterly meeting on Thursday, and their Annual General Meeting on Friday, at the Singleton Council Chambers.

Our Mayor, Sue Moore, was among the representatives who were in attendance as they discussed the stalemate and other mining related issues, along with listening to presentations from various speakers.

Mr Shinton, who is the Warrumbungle Shire Council Mayor, says with 18 councils represented the association has become a leading advocate for local communities on mining related issues.

“It stared as a talkfast and we would write few letters to ministers,” he says.

“But now we are recognised as a peak body and have a representative on the NSW government’s Resources for Regions Panel.”

“For the past 12 months we have been focused on formulating guidelines for VPA’s and working with the Minerals Council in good faith. However, we are no longer on the same wavelength so it has reached the point where we will be asking the Department of Planning to step in.”

He explains they have been sitting on the sidelines while the AMRC and NSW Minerals Council have been attempting to improve the process for negotiating VPA’s for mining related projects.

The need to put in place a standardised process that ensures all Councils are fairly compensated to offset the social impacts as well as the impacts on infrastructure and services is evident as Mr Shinton says the Broken Hill City Council signed its first VPA in 2017 when mining had been in the area for 130 years.

Singleton Council will be asked to support the AMRC’s stance at Monday night’s meeting.

A representative from the NSW Minerals Council says they have been in discussions with a range of mining effected councils on the potential for developing a VPA tool which would provide certainty and consistency and also ensure payments better reflect the actual impact mining operations have on local communities. 

“There is a range of different views on how this can be achieved, but ultimately VPA’s are a matter for negotiation for councils and project proponents,” the representative says.

Mr Shinton says if the Minerals Council’s methodology is adopted affected communities will not be fairly compensated.