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Macdonald backs longwall mining

NEW South Wales Mineral Resources Minister Ian Macdonald has reiterated his support for longwall mining applications in areas close to farming and urban land uses in the light of community opposition to the developments. <b>Lou Caruana reports from Pokolbin.</b>

Lou Caruana
Macdonald backs longwall mining

Speaking at the annual Minerals Industry Safety Conference on Monday, Macdonald said the coal industry was helping lead the state out of the global financial crisis and that the NSW government would be seeking clarity from the federal government about the newly announced resource rent tax and its effect on investment in the state’s growing industry.

“The details about the resources rent tax are somewhat sketchy. We will be seeking to understand the ramifications of the tax and will be consulting with corporations about it,” he said.

“I understand there will be some packages to encourage exploration.”

Coal mining was providing much-needed employment and investment in regional NSW as well as the broader economy.

When asked about community opposition to longwall developments due to subsidence and the effect on underground aquifers in areas such as the Illawarra and the Liverpool Plains, Macdonald remained supportive of the approval processes followed by the industry.

“In some respects there is a misunderstanding about this,” he said.

“Here in Cessnock it has worked quite well.

“The remediation here has been done quite successfully. In most cases this is what is occurring.”

Macdonald said a proposed amendment to the Mining Act would ensure the approvals process returned to the status quo. This was in response to a recent Supreme Court ruling stemming from an action taken in the Liverpool Plains which stipulated that agreement from any party with an interest was needed in any single land access arrangement with land holders for exploration.

The NSW government would also be moving to harmonise the state’s occupational health and safety regulations with those of a task force being led by Julia Gillard.

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