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Bligh freezes Qld exploration licences

IN AN unprecedented move, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has announced she will ban new mining exploration leases in urbanised areas of Queensland from today.

Lauren Barrett
Bligh freezes Qld exploration licences

The legislation, which is expected to be introduced into parliament later this year, will put an end to exploration permits within a 2 kilometre radius of a town of more than 1000 people.

“It means there will be no more exploration activity on urban land or within a 2 kilometre buffer of urban land,” Bligh said.

Bligh said the changes would provide upfront certainty for residents in areas desired for mining exploration.

“These restrictions are complimentary to the existing strategic cropping legislation and will provide another layer of assurance for communities,” she added.

Coal seam gas will be included under the changes but will reportedly face tougher restrictions.

Bligh originally said the restriction would cover existing exploration permits, which could have affected an estimated 285 mining leases in the state.

However a report in The Australian confirmed existing exploration zones would not be affected as it could warrant legal action.

The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies chief executive Simon Bennison called on the government to reconsider the ban on exploration permits.

“This ban will affect 285 existing exploration permit holders the government has indicated will not receive any compensation for the loss of these assets,” he said.

“The state government should consider a cooling off period in which to consult with the various stakeholders and try to build some flexibility into the policy.

“There needs to be a consultation process between the government, miners and landowners to resolve this issue appropriately and fairly amongst all stakeholders.

“Mining has successfully co-existed with agriculture and urban areas for more than 100 years, and this can and must continue.”

However, Bligh rejected the prospect of litigation this morning on ABC Radio.

“I would be very surprised if we see any litigation from any of the mining companies in relation to this,” she said.

The Queensland Resources Council has reportedly sought “urgent talks” with the premier, as quoted in The Australian.

An industry source told ILN he was disturbed at the changes, which were yet another blow to mining companies looking to develop in Australia.

“They [the government] seem not to be interested in progressing resource projects,” he said.

“The state government is certainly doing everything they can to kill mining.”

The government said the ban would apply to land bound by the South East Queensland Regional Plan and regional centres including Ipswich, Toowoomba, Rockhampton, Mackay and St George.

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