Hogsback on NSW's investor unfriendly planning system

HOGSBACK reckons the New South Wales government’s planning system has put the Australian coal industry on the back foot - especially with investors from our major trading partners in North East Asia.
Hogsback on NSW's investor unfriendly planning system Hogsback on NSW's investor unfriendly planning system Hogsback on NSW's investor unfriendly planning system Hogsback on NSW's investor unfriendly planning system Hogsback on NSW's investor unfriendly planning system

Korean investors Kores and Kepco in particular have had to run the gauntlet of the NSW system, with all of its vagaries and unpredictability.

Kores eventually prevailed and earlier this year had its Wallarah 2 project granted a mining lease.

Wallarah 2 has 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, according to NSW Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee.

"This project has also been used as a political football at successive state elections. 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," he said.

Sadly, Kepco failed in its attempt to get approval for its Bylong coal mine by the NSW Independent Planning Commission.  

Kepco was planning to extract 120 million tonnes of coal over 25 years at the proposed Bylong mine, which would have created 650 jobs during construction and 450 during production.

The inherent weaknesses with the NSW planning system reached crisis point last week following the IPC's decision to refuse consent for the Bylong project, according to Galilee.

"This project, near the regional towns of Kandos and Rylstone has broad support from these local communities, the local regional council, and local MPs.  The Department of Planning recommended the project be approved and none of the 14 government agencies consulted on the project objected," he said.

It has now been left to the federal mines minister Matt Canavan to salvage the reputation of the Australian coal industry in Korea and Japan in his visit this week to North East Asia.

"Resources are one of our greatest economic strengths," Canavan said.

"To stay in our world-beating position, we must invest in emerging opportunities and promote them to the world, including our close neighbours in Asia.

"As a government, we are targeting the three ‘i's to help foster our critical minerals sector - investment, innovation and infrastructure - to clear the way for more development. Our detailed plans were released earlier this year in the Federal Government's Critical Minerals Strategy."

Hogsback reckons the job of convincing our Asian neighbours that our coal mines are worthy of their investment just got a lot harder with the IPC's Bylong decision.