The government’s renewed focus comes as the state’s biggest export earning industry makes efforts to bring in new mines and ramp up operations to meet growing overseas coal demand.
"We want to make sure that increase in employment and huge economic benefit to the Hunter is not at a huge cost to the environment and the health of the people here," NSW Planning Minister Tony Kelly told the ABC.
The government plan will reportedly cover mining in the Hunter Valley for the next 25 years, and councils in the region were briefed last week by Planning Department officials.
The master plan for future coal mining aims to balance community concerns along with possible land conflicts with wine-growing, horse breeding and farming interests.
Five ministers are responsible for the mining industry in the Hunter Valley and a notable aspect of the plan is to create a Cabinet sub-committee for oversight, especially when taking into account the impact of railing the coal.
The state government signalled a “strategic plan” was in the works back in July after the Camberwell Cumulative Impact Review found scant evidence of any impact of coal mining on drinking water, dust or noise in the village near Singleton in the Upper Hunter Valley.
“There are more than 570 pieces of legislation, regulation and guidelines applied to mining, making it the most regulated industry in NSW, but it is clear that some parts of the community remain concerned about the impact of our operations,” NSW Minerals Council chief executive Nikki Williams said at the time.
But she also welcomed a new “whole-of-government” approach to coal mining on the basis it could demystify” the regulation regimes already in place and hopefully debunk some of the myths about mining.