Statement from NSW Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee
After two years of speculation, today’s announcement by BHP regarding the future of the Mt Arthur operation provides certainty for workers and local communities and a pathway towards significant potential post-mining opportunities at the site.
BHP’s intention to seek a four-year extension to allow mining at Mt Arthur to continue for another eight years until 2030 will ensure those that rely on the operation for employment can continue to do so for years to come, while also planning for the future.
While the Mt Arthur mine is a large operation, it is just one of nearly forty coal mines operating across NSW, and seventeen operating in the local region.
Fifteen other local coal mines in the Upper Hunter either have approvals already in place or are seeking approvals to continue mining to 2035 or beyond, with several seeking extensions to operate beyond 2040.
Beyond the Upper Hunter, another fifteen NSW coal mines either have approvals in place or are seeking approvals to continue mining into the 2030s, with six either approved or seeking approval to operate until 2040, and several seeking extensions to operate well beyond 2040.
Industry conditions are the strongest in living memory, with strong demand for high quality NSW coal reflected in record prices and labour shortages across the sector.
Increasing demand for metals and minerals needed for smartphones, solar panels, batteries, electric vehicles and other technology is also driving new mining opportunities across the state. In addition to our existing world-class metals mining operations, there are proposals for at least 15 new metals mines in NSW, with four already approved but yet to proceed, and another eleven at various stages of the planning assessment process.
The eight-year timeframe for cessation of mining operations at Mt Arthur will help ensure site rehabilitation can be undertaken to maximise post-mining opportunities for the local region.
This protracted timeframe also provides the opportunity for extensive and detailed local consultation and planning necessary to ensure post-mining opportunities are maximised.
Currently, restrictive planning arrangements relating to consents and post-mining land use are a significant barrier to a range of potential future opportunities.
NSWMC has been a long-term advocate for changes to current planning laws to provide mining operations with greater flexibility on post-mining land use. Such changes should enable mining operations to amend their existing post-mining approval conditions in response to community needs so local mining communities receive the best possible outcomes once mines reach the end of their operating lives.
The NSW Government’s Draft 2041 Hunter Regional Plan clearly recognised the need for such changes. Such recognition in the final Plan later this year should help facilitate their future design and implementation.
NSWMC and our member companies have long been involved in community consultation and discussion about post-mining land uses in the Hunter. Consideration of these issues has also been facilitated through the local Upper Hunter Mining Dialogue. We look forward to continuing this positive community engagement into the future.
Media contact: William Rollo | firstname.lastname@example.org | 0434 650 650