The new study will look at the potential impact that coal mining and coal seam gas extraction could have on the region’s water resources.
Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson has no concerns about stepping into state government turf.
“The study will help inform the NSW government of the best ways to manage any potential impacts from mining on the region’s water resources and farming communities,” he said while in the Liverpool Plains on Thursday.
“This will provide local communities with the confidence they need as the NSW government’s mining assessment process gets underway.”
The water study covers the surface and groundwater resources in the Liverpool Plains, including the Peel River and Mooki River, Maules Creek and Plan Creek.
Mining and gas exploration companies are providing a collective $3 million of funding to the study.
BHP Billiton’s Caroona Coal project often gets most of the negative attention, but other companies with key projects in the region include Santos, Coalworks, Aston Resources, Whitehaven and China Shenhua Energy.
Activist group CCAG said Ferguson had distanced himself from the state Labor government when he confirmed that a water study should have been carried out before any exploration licenses were granted in the Liverpool Plains.
“Hosted on the visit by Tony Windsor MP, the minister made good on a pledge to see for himself the value of the area in agricultural terms,” CCAG said.