That seems to be the message set by new Queensland’s new Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Act 2014 aimed at eliminating false, “alarmist” environmental claims that miners can’t fight because they’re made on philosophical grounds.
State mines minister Andrew Cripps announced on September 10 that the Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Act 2014 ensures “low impact” mines which met certain eligibility criteria would no longer be subject to notification requirements or potential objects to an environmental authority.
The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies’ Queensland-Northern Territory spokesman Bernie Hogan told International Coal News that under the Common Provisions Act, the affected landholder would still have rights for notification and objection – in fact, the final changes to the bill also included neighbouring landholders.
“But it does limits someone who objects to a development on philosophical grounds and doesn’t have land in close proximity to the project objecting,” Hogan said.
“Realistically, our members want to be able to live up to their obligations, but they can’t combat somebody on philosophical grounds when they’re trying to get a project up.
“So we do support that part of the Act in its efforts to enable projects to go ahead, but also to limit the opportunity for vexatious claims.”
He said the Bill limited the Act’s parameters, “whereas before it had none”
Cripps said it was all part of reducing resources industry red tape, as “too often we see alarmist green groups submit deliberately distorted and misrepresented objections to proposals in attempt to shut down the resources sector and the tens of thousands of jobs it supports”
“These types of objections stall the application process, hinder economic development and deny Queenslanders potentially billions of dollars of royalties that could be put back into building hospitals, schools and road infrastructure,” Cripps added.
“Our common sense approach means smaller mining operations, which make up the majority of all mining leases in Queensland and have little impact on landholders or the environment, do not have to follow the same process as large-scale projects.
“With large-scale mines, all notification rights are preserved and the broader public will retain their right to have their say.”
Objection rights were also preserved for any person who had made a submission on a site-specific application for an EA, either through the notification process for that EA or an associated environmental impact statement process, he said.
“Environmental authorities for mines with potential impacts on the wider community and the environment will always be publicly notified, so anyone, including landholders, councils and the community, can lodge a submission for that proposal,” Cripps said.
The Act also includes amendments to clearly identify the Land Court’s jurisdiction to ensure any issues considered by the court relate to impacts of the proposed mine on those more directly impacted by the proposed mining lease application.
However, Labor’s Jackie Trad, deputy chair of the committee that oversaw the Bill’s formulation, said the opposition strongly opposed the removal of public notification and objection rights on mining lease applications and environmental authority applications “which is without any policy justification”
"As the report notes, the committee found no evidence of significant costs or vexatious use of objections to small-scale mining applications,” she said.
"Mining resources are held by the Crown on behalf of the people and nearby landowners and the broader community have a right to know about, and to object to mining projects in their state.”
Another committee member, Shane Knuth of Katter’s Australian Party, said the Bill was biased toward "the mining giants" and removed landowners' rights even more.
He said farmers' water infrastructure and principal stockyards would no longer be considered "restricted land" for mining exploration.
"I am deeply troubled about the removal of key infrastructure from the restricted land as the whole aspect of the management of a farm or grazing property is reliant on these key infrastructure components. Without them a property cannot operate."