Hogsback on coal mine approval sagas

HOGSBACK reckons anyone who wants to start a new coal mine in Australia should first get in training for a Tough Mudder. That may help prepare them for the long distance, often dirty, obstacle course they can expect ahead.
Hogsback on coal mine approval sagas Hogsback on coal mine approval sagas Hogsback on coal mine approval sagas Hogsback on coal mine approval sagas Hogsback on coal mine approval sagas

Adani knows only too well how governments can draw out approvals to fit into electoral cycles.


It took two years and a dismal result for the ALP in Queensland in the federal election for Adani's Carmichael coal mine Black-Throated Finch Management Plan and Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan to be assessed and approved by both federal and state environmental departments.


Last week we learnt the Wyong Areas Coal Joint Venture's Wallarah 2 project on the New South Wales central coast had finally received its required mining lease.


This project will support more than 1000 direct and indirect jobs during construction, 300 direct jobs in the mining operation for the 28 year life of the mine, and another 500 indirect jobs in retail, building, transport and other sectors.


It also happens to be near residences and a waterway, which qualifies it as fair game for opportunistic politicians.


As would be expected, this project's approval ended up being a major saga with a cast of characters that included former NSW Premier Barrie O'Farrell.


NSW coal watchers might remember O'Farrell's arbitrarily revoking the exploration license for NuCoal Resources' Doyles Creek project after a hearing by the corruption watchdog found the then NSW Mines Minister Ian Macdonald had illegally granted the Doyles Creek licence to his political ally John Maitland.


Despite being completely innocent, the poor NuCoal Resources shareholders were given no compensation by the state government.


O'Farrell was true to form with his anti-coal message as he spouted off against the Wallarah project and even got himself photographed wearing an anti-Wallarah T-shirt.


NSW Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee said Wallarah 2 had been one of the most scrutinised mining projects in NSW history, subjected to repeated assessment over a ridiculous 16-year period, including by independent scientific experts, the Department of Planning, and the Independent Planning Commission, before receiving a positive determination last year.


"This project has also been used as a political football at successive state elections," he said. "However, that's now all in the past and we commend the NSW government for granting the project a mining lease so it can proceed."

The NSW government will also be hoping it proceeds because it is facing a substantial revenue shortfall with a big drop in stamp duty from the waning property market and the federal government's revised GST allocation model for NSW.

Over the life of the project, Wallarah 2 is forecast to drive more than $600 million in economic turnover into the regional economy and hundreds of millions in royalties and taxes to the state government.

Hogsback reckons when governments' backs are against the wall they are quite happy to end the mine approvals soap operas.