Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Energy and Resources Minister Hartcher is a little economical with the truth

On the 29 June 2011 in an article titled Toxic metal hunt at proposed site State Energy and Resources Minister Chris Hartcher's position on any future mining proposal in the Wild Cattle Creek area of the Nymboida sub-catchment of the larger Clarence River catchment was elucidated:

“An exploration licence allows a company to undertake exploration, environmental assessments and feasibility studies only.”
Before any mine was opened strict guidelines had to be adhered to.
"Any future mining proposal would be required to obtain development consent through the relevant consent authority...As part of this process, proponents are required to prepare and submit a comprehensive environmental assessment that assesses all potential impacts of the proposal, including potential impacts on aquifers and water resources as well as cumulative impacts.”
Planning approval rests with the State Government until its plan to scrap Part 3A of the Planning Act is legislated.
Then it would be up to individual councils to sign off on any approval for the proposed mine.
“Local communities and councils are fully involved in the process, with planning approvals going out for public consultation,” Mr Hartcher said.

Unfortunately this is not the entire range of possibilities for progressing any future mining development application within the Nymboida or Clarence River catchment areas.

O'Farrell Government policy documents concerning the repeal of Part 3A of the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 reveal that certain mining proposals will still fall into a category which can attract a State Significant Development (SSD) classification which allows the Minister to ‘call in’ a development application and possibly hand it back to the Planning Assessment Commission or over to the Department of Planning and Infrastructure for determination.

Should any mining proposal in the aforementioned catchment areas be ‘called in’ in this way then:

Under the proposed delegation, the PAC will determine larger and more controversial projects, while senior officers of the Department of Planning and Infrastructure will determine projects which have attracted fewer than 25 submissions by members of the public objecting to the proposal and where the local council has not objected.
[NSW Planning & infrastructure (June 2011) Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Part 3A Repeal) Bill 2011: an overview]

This is a flow chart indicating the more likely route that any development application by China Shandong Jinshunda Group Co Ltd, Sunstar Capital Pty Ltd and Anchor Resources Ltd will take with regard to anitimony mining at Wild Cattle Creek.

Given the background of the mining corporation and Minister Hartcher's previously expressed sentiments on regional mining, I sincerely doubt that local communities will be more than a token consideration in any development determination.


Is Chinese Government policy encouraging mining in the Clarence River catchment in order to conserve its own national resources?

Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Part 3A Repeal) Bill 2011

The major project assessments system

Policy statement: State significant development – procedures
Policy statement: Proposed State significant development and infrastructure classes
Policy statement: Ministerial ‘call in’ for State significant development
Fact sheet

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