Shadow Minister for Resources calls for ‘fair’ treatment of Hunter miners and mine project assessment

April 22, 2014

NSW Shadow Minister for Resources, Steve Whan, has come out in support of Rio Tinto’s Mount Thorley Warkworth project and its 1300 workers, calling for the new project proposal to be assessed on its merits.

Mr Whan has told ABC’s NSW Country Hour that he is in favour of “fair” treatment of the Mount Thorley Warkworth mine project application and the retention of 1300 mineworkers currently employed at the Hunter Valley site, saying “it's entirely appropriate that the warkworth mine be given another chance to go through that planning process”.

He went on to say that we “need to remember that exports of coal from NSW are something that helps our economy significantly. It helps us to develop our standard of living as well as drive jobs in the Hunter Valley.”

“As a labor MP, I am concerned about towns like Singleton where the loss of 1300 jobs for a mine this big would be an absolutely savage blow to the economy of that area and to a town of that size” and “this is a mine that is a huge part of the economy of Singleton, Muswellbrook and Cessnock.”

In a nod to the challenges in the current planning system, Mr Whan said there needed to be some changes, because “a good planning system will ensure that [environmental and economic factors] are in balance when we consider any application. We shouldn't take a blanket ‘this is bad because it’s coal’ approach that we are too often seeing.”

It comes after an appeal against the Land and Environment Court’s decision to halt the mine's original legally approved expansion was lost. Rio Tinto Coal Australia is now submitting a new project application that addresses the community’s concerns about the impacts of the previous proposal and includes additional measures including an offer to provide more than 1800 hectares of land towards a National Park, $4 million towards a significant regeneration program for the Warkworth sands Woodlands and ironbark ecological communities, and more than $1.5 million for training and employment programs aimed at youth in the Upper Hunter.

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